Monday, March 16, 2009

Goalkeeper Violations

The Goalkeeper is a unique position on the field. He or she has certain special rights under the Laws of the Game and that can cause some confusion. It's no surprise, then, that the additional rights of GK's and their general proximity to the goal makes the situation prime for controversy. Let's clear up the common misconceptions and look at some scenarios you might encounter:

  1. Pass Back Violation. In order for this to be a violation remember that three things need to happen per US Soccer: The ball is kicked (played by the foot) by a teammate of the GK. The action is deemed to be deliberate rather than a deflection. The GK handles it directly without an intervening touch from an opponent. This includes a pass back that the GK dribbles back into the area and then picks up. Restart: Indirect Free Kick from the spot of the infraction. [Video]
  2. Handling by the Goalkeeper. Of course once the GK leaves the penalty area he is not allowed to use his hands. Consider a GK sliding, with the ball in their hand, out of the penalty area. Be completely sure that they are clearly out of the area before calling it and remember its where the ball is, not the keeper's body. Restart: Direct Free Kick.
In addition to these clear cut cases there are other situations to consider. For example, the GK leaving the area when punting the ball. Again, make sure before punishing it that you are absolutely sure they committed the violation. This is a good opportunity for AR involvement by warning the GK. If the behavior is repeated and obvious, then the call can be made. We only care about where the ball is while in his hands, not where the GK is or ends up after the kick.
This would be considered handling and the restart would be a Direct Free Kick. Usually this is considered unintentional and shouldn't be cautioned.

Speaking of cautions, what do you do when the GK comes out of the area and handles the ball? We know the violation is there and its a Direct Free Kick but what else? You'll need to read the situation carefully to make your decision. Did the keeper know he was out of the area? Where the Four D's of DOGSO present? In the Spirit of the Game, should there even be a card? I would say most times this would be at least a caution, but only if it was a deliberate tactical play.

Whenever you are penalizing the GK, be it a pass back violation or handling, err on the side of the GK. Never give such a severe penalty to a team merely on a hunch. Thinking it was a deflection on the pass back? Let it go...

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