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Question Number: 35480

Law 18 - Common Sense 4/28/2024

RE: Comp High School

Peter of Stockton, CA USA asks...

After watching the Liverpool / West Ham game I am very confused and hope that you can help me understand. In the final minutes the keeper releases the ball Gakpo runs on the ball and then the referee stops play. Before play was stopped the keeper was adjusting his socks. I am thinking that the keeper was confused and thought there was a free kick given, but should the referee stop play because a player was confused? The referee then restarted play with a al a free kick restart.

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Pete,
hmmm? I unfortunately didn't see the match and have yet to find a video of the incident in question? Nor is there sufficient here to even hazard a guess?

Ok got a bit of info

Cody Gakpo runs onto the ball intercepting a supposed release by the Westham keeper after a save! Does that not strike you as strange??

The claim the referee stopped play because the keeper is playing with his sock is just not true, there was much more to it.
A referee generally does not award advantage way back inside a defensive PA.
It is risky and too far away to be of much use .
Now the keeper went down in a save situation and may or may not have been fouled but he DID have ball possession.
The referee may have felt the keeper was not severely injured, just needed a collective moment so suspended the 6 seconds possession slightly to allow a recovery. It could be Westham keeper was possibly injured in the save situation but the referee did not think it serious and saw no need to blow the whistle to indicate if it was a free kick situation but rather waved play on in kind of an advantage situation in where you have ball possession so punt out.
A free kick dead ball situation inside the PA is not really an advantage over a punt out in real time. So foul or no foul, it was in the best interest for the keeper to just punt the dang ball after he catches his breath!
THAT is likely what the referee intended!

Only later when Cody Gakpo got involved, was there a whistle to stop play! Based on the video it appeared as if the referee was happy that the match is still active and to get on with it.

Apparently AFTER the whistle denying Cody Gakpo an opportunity to attack, the referee stopped play, tried to call out the first aid boys to assess if the Westham keeper was perhaps injured? That seemed odd because why tell the keeper to get on with it if he thought he was injured? He may have realized crap I dug a hole please help me out lol . A DB restart is the correct restart if play was stopped solely for an injury

It is certainly possible the keeper WAS indeed confused and thought he had a free kick! The fact he simply rolled the ball out towards an opponent seems rather strange do you not think? He might have misheard the referee stating to kick it, not get on with it? Who is to say!

The referee on his part obviously felt he handled the situation poorly, and did not want to see a goal result from the keeper misunderstanding his instruction to get on with it and play, especially if there was an actual foul that could have been awarded. If the restart was a free kick out some sort of foul must be awarded otherwise it is a DB?

I often say, Your match, Your Decision, Your Reputation is made on how well you conduct your affairs. Here the referee, I believe, had the best of intentions to just play on, but felt responsible for how the keeper reacted. Look at how the referee in an champions league reacted to the handling incident on a goal kick recently? Lots of comments there as well.

It is not the job of a neutral referee to correct a mistake but I am aware, that as a referee I feel badly when responsible for partially creating an incident and will seek to address this imbalance if at all practical...

In the truest sense of the LOTG, though there was no legal reason the referee was required to stop play, in terms of fair play, was it not perhaps the just decision?

I will add only this in incidents where a keeper is clattered, foul or no foul, I would think to ask, "Are you ok, can you continue? You have the ball, so lets just get on with it, there will be no stoppage. You can just punt it out! I will extend your 6 seconds a wee bit You good to go? YES eye contact, thumbs up great!"

Here it appeared the referee wanted to remain in the outfield to prepare for the release rather than directly confirm if the keeper had full measure of the decision. Thus something lost in translation. NO ADVANTAGE yelled out, extended arm signal palm out No PLAY ON! yelled for all to hear? Just a bit of a wave to get on with it.

The referee thinking along with everyone else but the keeper punt it . The keeper taking a moment to tidy and kick it! Well everyone eventually did get on it, rather than with it, as the comments are flying about in the post game reviews! lol

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Peter
This incident caused a lot of debate among referees.
The West Ham goalkeeper appeared to be fouled yet he had stood up with the ball in his grasp. For whatever reason the referee Anthony Taylor decided that the goalkeeper was not injured at that time and he allowed play to continues. He believes the ball is going long based on how West Ham reacted and he runs backwards up the field until a point where he realises that the goalkeeper is on his own and then just runs normally for the last 10 yards to get close to the drop zone for a punt with his back to the ball. He then realises when he looks around that the West Ham goalkeeper has thrown the ball down I assume because he thinks that play had been stopped for his injury which it had not.
Referee Taylor sees that and immediately stops the game with a whistle which prevent the Liverpool player from scoring.

Now there are a few points to consider here.
Was there a foul on the goalkeeper and was advantage being played?
Was there an injury to the goalkeeper at a level that play should have been stopped?

The images are grainy and I do not see any advantage signal by the referee. There appears to be a slight wave on motion. He restarts with a dropped ball so we can assume that there was no advantage and no offence.
So we are left with an injury situation. Many have argued that it was not a sufficient injury to stop the game particularly when the goalkeeper pulls up his socks after throwing the ball down. At any level of the game goalkeepers knows that if treatment is required they will punt the ball out of play and go down. Referees will not allow the throw in restart in such situations.

Now what does football expect here. For whatever reason the goalkeeper is unlikely to just throw the ball down for an opponent to score. There had to have been some notion that play had stopped or more likely a clear miscommunication by the referee.
I dont think any questionable, uncontested goal does anything for the game and in the interests of Fair Play the best decision was to stop the game for the injury and restart with a dropped ball.
Here is one that while not the same the principle is the same and the goal was allowed
The goalkeeper seems to be fouled and then the restart by the quick thinking attacker.
Perhaps the referee saw the incident as an attempt to delay the game due to when it happened and he did not give the original free kick.
As I have said in the past I do not like looking at single incidents in isolation. Was the goalkeeper here trying to game the referee into stopping the game to help run down the clock? Was there a foul in the slip into the player? Was there a shout to the goalkeeper to play on?
FWIW I would have halted play and restarted with the free kick to the GK and added on the time lost.

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