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Cal South E-News | August 2010 REFEREE EDUCATION

August 23, 2010

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Rules 101 content provided by U.S. Soccer

Laws of the Game:
Ask the Referee

In response to various questions, the following are responses from the National Referee Program Office:


In order to play there are X number of players and a specifically appointed goalkeeper. This is a two part question. If the goalkeeper is injured does play stop? If the keeper is injured for a period of time and play is continuing does the goal count if it crosses the goal line?

A two-part question gets a two-part answer.

  1. Play is stopped only if, in the opinion of the referee, the player is seriously injured. That includes all players, whether field player or goalkeeper.
  2. If the goalkeeper is not, in the opinion of the referee, seriously injured and play continues, a goal would be counted if the whole of the ball completely crosses the entire goal line between the goalposts and beneath the crossbar.


In the past couple of months I've noticed a trend among some of the assistant referees with whom I have worked. I was taught that when a goal is scored into the goal on my side of the pitch, as an AR I should sprint briefly along the touchline toward the center circle. This is also how I've always seen it done at the professional level. Several of the ARs I've worked with recently have, instead, walked or stood still and motioned downward with both hands along the touchline. It's the motion you'd make if you were insisting that someone go ahead in front of you.

Is this an alternate form of this signal or just laziness? I'll admit it's been very hot in SoCal these last few months so I understand the desire to conserve energy, and I'm one who usually abhors officiousness for its own sake, but it seems a tad unprofessional. Am I being the over-officious official I've always detested on this one or can I, in good conscience, correct ARs working with me who do this?

We are unaware of any changes to the procedure outlined in the USSF publication "Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials":


Lead Assistant Referee

  • If the ball briefly but fully enters the goal and is continuing to be played, raises the flag vertically to get the referee's attention, and then after the referee stops play, puts flag straight down and follows the remaining procedures for a goal
  • If the ball clearly enters the goal without returning to the field, establishes eye contact with the referee and follows the remaining procedures for a goal
  • Runs a short distance up the touch line toward the halfway line to affirm that a goal has been scored
  • Keeps moving to avoid confrontation if approached
  • Observes the resulting player b behavior and the actions in ad around the penalty area
  • Takes up the position for a kick-off
  • Keeps players under observation at all times
  • Records the goal after the trail assistant referee has recorded it.


Situation: Attacker takes a shot on the goal. Keeper blocks the shot with his hands, and the ball bounces out of the penalty area. Keeper runs after the ball, and plays it back into the penalty area (with his feet).

My question is, if the keeper then picks up the ball with his hands, does this constitute illegal handling, punishable by an indirect free kick?

My understanding is that this question hinges on whether this was "deliberately parrying the ball", in which case the keeper is considered to have possession and is not allowed to play the ball back into the penalty area and pick it up, or "the ball rebounds accidentally from him", in which case the keeper does not have possession of the ball and is allowed to pick up back up inside the penalty area.

My interpretation is that this case (where the keeper intentionally moved his hands towards the ball to keep it from crossing the goal line) would fall under "deliberately parrying".

What you describe sounds more like a good defensive move than a parry, but only the referee on the game can decide for certain. Parrying is no longer seen at the higher levels of play, because it is no longer an effective tool for the goalkeeper, who has only six seconds to distribute the ball after achieving possession. "Parrying" should not be confused with making a "save." "Parrying" occurs when the goalkeeper knowingly controls the ball with the hands by deliberately pushing it to an area where it can be played later. By parrying the ball, the goalkeeper has done two things simultaneously: (1) established control and (2) given up possession. The ball is now free for all to play and the goalkeeper may not play it again with the hands. Referees must watch carefully to see that the goalkeeper does not use a parry (disguised as a "save") in an attempt to hide the fact that he or she has established possession.

This excerpt from the USSF publication "Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game" may be helpful:


After relinquishing control of the ball, a goalkeeper violates Law 12 if, with no intervening contact, touch or play of the ball by a teammate or an opponent, he or she handles the ball a second time. This includes play after parrying the ball. Referees should note carefully the text in Interpretations of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees (IGR), which defines "control" and distinguishes this from an accidental rebound or a save.

In judging a second touch with the hands by the goalkeeper, referees must take into account tactical play which may seem unsporting but is not against the Laws of the Game or even the spirit of the game. If a goalkeeper and a teammate play the ball back and forth between them, the goalkeeper can handle the ball again legally so long as the teammate has not kicked the ball to the goalkeeper. However, of course, an opponent can challenge for the ball during such a sequence of play. The players are "using" but not "wasting" time. The referee's goal under these circumstances is to be close enough to manage the situation if the opposing team decides to intervene.

The "second possession" foul is punished only by an indirect free kick from the place where the goalkeeper handled the ball the second time*. Please note: A goalkeeper may never be punished with a penalty kick for deliberately handling the ball within his or her own penalty area, even if the handling is otherwise a violation of another restriction in Law 12.

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