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Question Number: 33653

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 9/16/2019

RE: Competitive Under 19

Gregor Gramlich of LARGO, FL United States asks...

I really struggle with the concept of 'protecting the goalie'. I had an incident this weekend where an attacker literally kicked a goalie in the head as the two were going for a low level bounding ball. But the goalie had not yet touched the ball. The LOTG simply say that a goalie cannot be challenged if he has possession of the ball with the hand. But many times, the goalie can be put in dangerous situations just before gaining possession. Can you offer some practical guidelines on how to 'protect the goalie'?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Gregor ,
You are 100% correct keepers DO put themselves at risk in how they try to smother balls at attacking players' feet. You should deal , comment or card on just about any player/keeper physical confrontation to settle the tensions or expectations.
Trust me we all struggle but keepers have a sacra saint kind of aura as the teams know, you mess with my keeper chances are we mess with yours!

Attackers can not run though keepers claiming innocence. They are aware once the keeper's hands get to that ball they better pull out or dive away. Not leaving ANY space, time or option to do so is THEIR choice, the attacker can challenge, but he has no right to kick the keeper in the head because there was little else that was going to occur due to how he targeted the situation . It could be an easy red card for excessive force.

However you can not completely fault an attacker for playing a loose ball IF while he IS in the process OF kicking the ball, the head bobs down into the way preceded by outstretched hands trying to grab said ball. A bit of context , position, awareness, speed, angles of intercept who is best suited to get there and how safe are the actions leading up to the impact?

All tackles must be performed in a safe manner with consideration to the opponent.
It is why when keepers reach up high arms above the head to grab a ball at a height most guys heading could not achieve, they get the call if jostled as you CAN NOT shoulder challenge them correctly. Plus once the ball is in their grasp/hands they CAN NOT be challenged!
In the PA given a keeper CAN use their hands the attackers KNOW this and must think on the tackles potential safety concerns given the hands are IN the equation.

You need your AR support and you need to be in good positions and proper angles to assess each potential for conflict. A Keeper bending down to scoop a ball and the attacker leaves their feet sliding in feet first is for me almost at minimum a caution as the fingers plus the force used to go though the keeper is NOT acceptable. The attacker hoping to push the ball wide or through the keeper is always going to create an impact that likely is detrimental to the keeper. It is why for example a PIOP will be flagged LONG before the potential for contact if it is a 50 50 ball between them and the keeper. In real time play with an onside tackler we ned to wait to see what actually occurs even if we see it as a freight train a coming.

I say we lean towards keeper perspective inside the PA only because the attackers need to be wary given the keeper gets INSTANT immunity the moment they control the ball with their hands.

Keep in mind that while keepers generally try to get to a spot and stop the ball where attackers are trying to get by or go around and are more likely to use reckless or excessive force .

That said, keepers can be guilty of VC as well leading in with knees and directing fists into heads as the jump into, on top of or over attackers seeking to move the ball away or reaching in to trip or grab them from rounding them.

In cases where the head is impacted a stoppage for a consideration of serous injury is likely a good move. The need to caution or send off based on the serious nature of each challenge ,be strong in setting the guidelines. If you fail to deal with a rash challenge the first time it is liable to escalate where someone is very likely to get hurt the next time!


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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Gregor
It is very difficult to protect goalkeepers when they put themselves in harms way with some kamikaze actions. Also the goalkeeper is not any different from any other player and for me there is no onus on protecting them uniquely. As goalkeepers gain more experience and coaching I would say that it is the other way around with opponents needing protection! Case in point Neuer Germany on Higuain Argentina in the .
A referee could not stop the game before contact as it might not happen with one or both pulling out of the challenge at the last moment or one avoids the contact.
What a referee can do is set out a strict stall that aggressive, risky challenges will be called and with a card and involving goalkeepers.
In my game yesterday a defender came through an opponent to win the ball. I immediately blew the whistle and cautioned the defender which I hoped would send out a message that I was not going to tolerate this type of challenge. His coach felt it was harsh and perhaps it was yet it sent out a message that I was not going to accept risky challenges. Both teams got the message as I had no risky challenges after that.
Similarly any risky challenges on the goalkeeper that are of the making of an opponent should be sanctioned with a card. For example an outstretched raised boot close to the body of a goalkeeper is most likely a card. It is also a judgement call based on whether the referee seen the challenge as high risk, likely to fail or whether it was caused by the goalkeeper putting himself in harms way.
All players have a responsibility for their own safety. All a referee can do is act after the event by sanctioning in a manner that sends out a clear signal of what is not acceptable.

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