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Question Number: 34203

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 4/23/2021

RE: Rec Under 15

Trent Futrell of Knoxville, TN USA asks...

In reffing a middle school game yesterday, Team A keeper had the ball and was running up to the penalty area line to punt/release the ball back into play. Team B player was shadowing the keeper and kept trying to get in front of the keeper trying to block the kick. I warned the player he needs to give the keeper room to get the ball back into play. The Team B player argued that he was outside the penalty area and wasn't breaking any rules. It happened several more times. I wanted to get clarification.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Trent
It makes no difference where the opponent is located. He can be inside or outside and if he interferes with the goalkeeper’s release of the ball it can be punished by an IDFK.
If the referee deems that it was done to prevent a promising attack then the opponent can also be cautioned or if he does it repeatedly then it can be a caution for persistent infringement.
Many times this action has no real impact on play and my advice is to allow play to continue. Referees should deal with the impactful ones and award the IDFK advising the player to desist. If it deserved a caution in it own right then so be it otherwise just advise the player that it is not allowed.
Here is an example of a player outside the penalty area
BTW the action is not just an innocent getting hit with the ball situation. The attacker has deliberately picked a position that is in the kicking channel of the goalkeeper. Now it is somewhat naive of the goalkeeper in that he should have moved away to show more clearly the actions of the attacker. The subtle 6 seconds pressure by the attacker is also part of the action. I saw another video by the same player doing the same in another game and the referee did not take action against it.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Trent,
the LOTG is very specific, no opposition player may impede the keeper from releasing the ball back into play during their 6 seconds of possession. The Keeper CAN on occasion make an impatient or silly decision but the actions of the opponent must not be directed to interfering with the keeper's opportunity to release. The difficulty, as in the video clip my colleagues showed you, is you know the opponent is simply baiting the keeper to do exactly as he did, which is, "Kick the ball at me mate!"

There was no real reason for the opponent to stand there or walk away, directly keeping the keeper in front of him but THAT is the subtle difference between standing your ground be it inside or outside the PA, and screwing with the release. The attacker appeared to be saying the keeper should hurry up, then he deliberately loitered and when the keeper went to kick the attacker did a full shuffle step back towards the keeper then he turned backward with another step back leg movement.

The question you should ask yourself is why and what reasons are there for the attackers' movement once outside the PA or even inside the PA (nothing says an opponent has to get out of the PA after a save only that they do nothing to prevent the keeper from releasing the ball back into play.) While attackers can certainly turn and pick themselves up and move away, they should not walk or retreat or cut sideways into the keeper's projected run path or shadow move along with him and try to challenge at the moment of release. They can be looking backward, adjusting their run accordingly to the keeper's whereabouts but only in terms of positional vulnerability to be able to react accordingly ONCE the ball is back in play. The attackers should just get out of the way and let the keeper release the ball into the air or onto the ground where THEN they can legally play the ball. If I, as a referee, see an attacker do the, (I will be rock, this be my ground, determined to stay motionlessly rooted, trying to bug the keeper) I might casually tell the keeper just go around, I will not start the 6 seconds until he is out of your way. It is one of the biggest wastes of a yellow card event as there is in soccer to play, I dare you, with the keeper. They changed the LOTG on keeper handling to avoid wasting time when the attackers interfere with the process of release, that is all they are doing, wasting time, having to stop play, award an indfk, possibly caution, or show a card!

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone


Since this was a middle school game, you may be using the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) rules. In Alabama, where I officiate, all middle school games use NFHS rules.

NFHS rule 12-5-3 states that the goal keeper in possession of the ball shall not be interfered with or impeded in any manner by an opponent. The penalty is an indirect free kick for the goalkeeper's team.

What you describe is considered impeding or interfering with the goalkeeper.

I suggest that when this impeding or interfering occurs that you stop the game and award an indirect kick to the goalkeeper. You should also warn the offender that continued interfering or impeding will result in a caution.

Hopefully, this warning will cause the opponent to stop shadowing the goalkeeper and/or blocking the kick. If it does not, stop the clock, give the offender a caution and have him/her leave the game, and restart the game with an indirect kick to the goalkeeper's team from the point of the infraction.

I hope that you have a very successful spring officiating season.

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