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Question Number: 33441

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 6/12/2019

RE: Ex player Adult

Peter Shaw of Paget, Paget Bermuda asks...

This question is a follow up to question 28938

When the goalkeeper takes the ball in their hands, during play, how long do they have before releasing the ball. I know they can take as many steps as they want but often they seem to take a lot of time before putting it back into play.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Peter
The Law and what happens in reality differ.
The Laws state that the goalkeeper has to release the ball within 6 seconds after gaining control of it. This law is not strictly enforced in a timed manner.
Sometimes the ball is released quickly almost immediately while other times goalkeepers take much longer than what is allowed. So unless a goalkeeper is abusing the time referees rarely get involved to call the offence punished by an IDFK. Usually both team goalkeepers are *guilty* of the delay and the opponents use the 6 seconds rule to verbally hurry the GK in putting the ball back into play without delay which does work.
I recall in a Women's Olympic game in 2012 when the referee called the Canadian goalkeeper for this offence. From the resulted free kick USA were awarded a penalty kick which was scored. The incident caused a huge controversy at the time based on the fact that the offence is rarely called. It later emerged that the referee had warned the Canadian goalkeeper about the length of time it was taking to put the ball into play and when the warning was not heeded the offence was called.
I estimated that she had the ball in her possession in the order of 10/12 seconds. Most times that would not be called.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Peter,
although the LOTG state 6 seconds of ball possession with the hands by a keeper inside his PA. That time limit is rarely enforced to the exact second. We also give time for keeper to say compose themselves if say they go to ground and need a few moments to get up and begin looking to release that ball back into active play after a save . You see BECAUSE once a keeper has ball possession within their hands, the opposition CAN NOT challenge for possession and must not hinder the release of that ball back into play.

The 6 seconds allow sufficient time to run to just about anywhere with the PA and throw kick or punt the ball out yet often we see 6 seconds drag into 7 ,8, 9, 10 even 12, 14 or more seconds. Now a referee might admonish the keepers to get on with it and are not usually too concerned with 7 or 8 secs but when one team's keeper is constantly hanging on to that ball, the other team frequently starts counting out loud & or complaining almost forcing the referee to do something about it.

It is considered as an INDFK infringment that can be awarded at the discretion of the referee. It also can be cautioned for as a USB activity for wasting match playing time. Similar to keeper running about taking over 30 seconds to get a goal kick underway.

As a Canadian I too recall the INDFK awarded against Canada/ USA woman's match that resulted in a deliberate handing for the ball hitting the defenders arm in the wall resulting in a PK. The Canadian keeper had been warned at the halftime and the USA players because they were losing, were very loud and vocal in counting out the time to put pressure on the referee to make that call. Basically then out of having possession the Canadians wound up having goal scored against them because the referee felt the pressure to make an example rather than saying, move it or lose it. I can honestly say at the time I was unimpressed by the referee in that match not just because I thought the calls were unnecessary but the calls where she missed were so bad. If Var had been in place I suspect we we would see several box figures being drawn. Canadian striker stomped the USA player, clear red card send off not even acknowledged as a foul. So While I hated the INDFK & PK, I knew we should be playing short, mitigated my irritation.

I can not recall awarding an INDFK for such a violation because I generally address the keeper directly with, 'Move it or lose it!' and commenting, 'Do you seriously want to give up a scoring chance for being obtuse?' Also I say to the teams that count,they are wasting your time and annoying me, same as coming up waving your hand I should be carding. You play, I ref.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Peter,
According to the laws, the goalkeeper only has 6 seconds to release the ball in this situation. However, for a combination of reasons, as touched upon by my colleagues, this is probably one of the least strictly enforced provisions in the law.

Although it's not a very satisfying explanation in many ways, this seems to be because it's just become accepted practice (by players and referees alike) over the years, that goalkeepers are allowed quite a bit longer than the specified 6 seconds, before most referees will consider even warning the keeper, let alone penalizing them. Somehow the notion has taken firm hold, and is adhered to almost universally, that the keeper is allowed up to 10, 12 seconds or sometimes even longer. This practice is so ingrained now, that on the rare occasions that a referee does enforce it - as in the example of the US vs Canada game my colleagues refer to, it becomes controversial. It's paradoxical perhaps, but true.

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