Soccer Referee Resources
Ask a Question
Recent Questions

RSS FEED Subscribe Now!

Q&A Quick Search
The Field of Play
The Ball
The Players
The Players Equipment
The Referee
The Other Match Officials
The Duration of the Match
The Start and Restart of Play
The Ball In and Out of Play
Fouls and Misconduct
Free Kicks
Penalty kick
Throw In
Goal Kick
Corner Kick

Common Sense
Kicks - Penalty Mark
The Technical Area
The Fourth Official
Attitude and Control
League Specific
High School

Common Acronyms
Meet The Ref
Contact AskTheRef
Help Wanted
About AskTheRef
Panel Login

Question Number: 21063

Law 5 - The Referee 3/31/2009

RE: competitive Other

Joe Iano of Seattle, WA USA asks...

This question is a follow up to question 21050

Referee Richard Dawson says technically it is illegal for the injured keeper's team to play without a functioning keeper.

If we remove the young ages involved and consider competitive youth soccer in general, what guidelines can you offer for stopping play when a keeper becomes 'nonfunctioning':
If keeper makes a dive and is getting up, but slowly?
If keeper makes a dive and doesn't get up at all?
If keeper makes a dive and gets up but is holding arm as if injured?

Let's assume the ball remains in play and the attacking team has decent chance at a shot on goal. Thanks.

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

We make a special exception for treatment of a keeper in that unlike a player the keeper does not have to be treated off the field! As a team consists of 11 players one of whom MUST be the keeper. My thoughts were in the youth scenario that if the keeper stops playing when the ball is not contested and the keeper could easily control or posses the ball ahead of all others but crumples holding the face one might surmises something serious was amiss. Unfortunately in real time it is a hard decision to make if unsure and the attack is pressing as one feels we are taking away a scoring chance!

I have seen a keeper make the great save at the near post but heard his collarbone break. I have seen him take a shot to the lower area and watched him crumple as if shot. I have seen the face used as a backboard and watched the head snap back! The moment you recognize that something is seriously amiss you whistle play dead! Rebound or opportunity be dammed. There is not a great deal one can do if a keeper gets injured as he saves but a rebound pops out and is immediately deposited into the goal. Obvious injury is where you as referee are close enough to hear or recognize that something has gone seriously wrong. One must certainly be wary of missing a FOUL that injures the keeper. If that was the cause of the injury and a goal is scored and counted expect some real game management issues to arise!
We get into a very ugly area if a keeper who makes a save but fails to control a rebound, fakes or plays at being really hurt to stop the attack.
One can only do so much. I suggested ask,' Can you continue? 'if appropriate. If you do allow play and the keeper turns out to be seriously injured or enough where they were really incapacitated yes you will feel bad. The opposing team COULD allow their counterparts to score an even up goal. Seen it done a time or to even at the professional level!

Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Answer provided by Referee Michelle Maloney

Under Law 3, each team must have a designated keeper. There is no requirement that said keeper be on the field at all times, only that the referee must know who the keeper is for each team. Changes in goalkeepers can only be made with the referee's permission.

If the keeper has left the field to retrieve a ball even though it is not his team's restart, and he throws the ball back to the field before he is actually there, and the other team takes their throw-in/corner kick/free kick, etc. before he is back in goal, if the ball enters the goal legally, it is a goal. Keeper's bad. On the other hand...

If keepers are injured in the course of playing for a ball, contested or not, fair play, game management and safety pretty much demand the referee stop play to deal with the keeper's injury, if it appears to have in any way incapacitated the keeper, even temporarily. And USSF has just issued two papers indicating that any kind of a head injury must take first priority over anything else in the game - advantage, etc. Play is to be stopped and the injury assessed and dealt with before play can continue.

Does that help?

Read other questions answered by Referee Michelle Maloney

View Referee Michelle Maloney profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 21063
Read other Q & A regarding Law 5 - The Referee

Soccer Referee Extras

Did you Ask the Ref? Find your answer here.

Enter Question Number

If you received a response regarding a submitted question enter your question number above to find the answer

Offside Question?

Offside Explained by Chuck Fleischer & Richard Dawson, Former & Current Editor of AskTheRef

This web site and the answers to these questions are not sanctioned by or affiliated with any governing body of soccer. The opinions expressed on this site should not be considered official interpretations of the Laws of the Game and are merely opinions of AskTheRef and our panel members. If you need an official ruling you should contact your state or local representative through your club or league. On AskTheRef your questions are answered by a panel of licensed referees. See Meet The Ref for details about our panel members.