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Question Number: 33824

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 12/30/2019

Larry of Danville, CA US asks...

Happy Holidays, and thanks for taking the time to answer all the questions that you do. I am a regular visitor to this site and it is very much appreciated.
I'd like to get your take on the following. A goal keeper makes an easy save on a shot from distance. Just as he catches the ball an attacker runs at him with the obvious intention of hoping the keeper drops the ball. Right before the attacker reaches the keeper he angles off slightly to avoid contact. The keeper,thinking he is about to be charged, drops his shoulder in preparation for the contact and even takes a step toward the attacker delivering a blow that might otherwise been avoided. I suspect this is one of those 'I'd have to see it myself' plays, but I am interested in your thoughts as to what should be considered.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Larry
Thanks for the question and best wishes to you and your family in 2020.
The key words for me is * that might otherwise be avoided*. So if the referee is of the opinion that the contact by the goalkeeper was deliberate then it is a penalty kick for an illegal charge and perhaps a caution for USB if it is also deemed reckless.
Now in a game situation the big question is the *might* part. Was it two players coming together. Was the attacker somewhat culpable in his action of running at the goalkeeper? Was the contact seen as simply players coming together with limited impact. Those are all judgement calls and very much based on seeing it to make a call.
I recall a few seasons ago in a game where a goalkeeper caught the ball and decided to go out of his way to charge an attacker with his shoulder, knocking him to the ground. The attacker had done nothing other than being within a few yards of the goalkeeper. I had no doubt the goalkeepers action was a deliberate aggressive charge with his shoulder on an opponent in the chest. I immediately called the penalty kick and cautioned him. His team protested and I told them that the GKs action was uncalled for and a cynical attempt of taking a cheap shot at an opponent thinking it would not be called just because he held the ball.
On many occasions I have seen roughhousing between attackers and goalkeepers where I have told them to desist and perhaps gave the benefit to the GKs as the attackers had initiated the situations by their movements. The attackers actions can be to slow down, delay release of the ball so in many ways the contact can be brought on themselves. The difficulty there is knowing whether exceptions will be taken resulting in a confrontation at that time or at another time. That is about reading players body language and mood.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Larry,
As with all potential physical contact fouls in a game, the referee should consider whether the player has acted in a way that is careless, reckless or using excessive force.

According to the law:

''Careless is when a player shows a lack of attention or consideration when making a challenge or acts without precaution. No disciplinary sanction is needed

Reckless is when a player acts with disregard to the danger to, or consequences for, an opponent and must be cautioned

Using excessive force is when a player exceeds the necessary use of force and/or endangers the safety of an opponent and must be sent off''

You are right that this is another one of those situations where you really have to be there and see it occur, to be able to make a judgement.

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