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Question Number: 32203

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 1/29/2018

RE: Select/Competitive College

Victor Blackburn of Beaufort, SC United States asks...

Scenario that happened recently in a Portuguese League Cup match that my colleagues and I have a disagreement on how it shouldve been handled. The match involved two of the top leagues in Portuguese professional football (just to give you an idea of the skill level were involved with):

So attacking team heads the ball towards the net. Keeper makes a brilliant save. Rebound shot again another brilliant save. Now there is a third rebound headed toward the goal and the defender is not sure that the keeper will recover. So, the defender takes place on the goal line. The keeper recovers yet again, but with the defender being in position as the header is heading toward goal reaches out with his hand about chest height. The ball brushes off the defenders hand, onto the keepers hand, which then is put over the goal line. The referees original call was corner, not seeing the slight deflection off the hand of the defender. However, VAR was used with this match and the referee was notified. Here is where it gets tricky. Upon review, the referee makes the decision that the defender did indeed deliberately handle the ball on the goal line as the ball was clearly headed into the net, and a PK was correctly awarded. However, and I can only assume that this is because of how the play resulted, only a yellow card was given for the handling offense. So, I think my question is obvious. Should this not be DOGSO-H? Can this really be only a caution for UB?

The argument some of my colleagues are making is that because the goalkeeper would have been there to make the save anyway, that it should only be a PK and a yellow card. I disagree with their interpretation on this possible DOGSO-H matter.

1. The opportunity, in my mind, still existed to score a goal.

2. Even though the Keeper recovered quickly and was directly behind the defender, the defender robs us, in my mind, of the opportunity to see what the outcome of the play would have been. Whether that be a goal, corner kick, or yet another rebound shot. The slight, yet deliberate deflection could have had an impact on what would have happened had he not been there.

3. And maybe most importantly in my opinion, that defender knowing the risks of what could happen, took position in front of the goal for one reason and one reason only. To stop that ball from going into the net by any means necessary. At this level, he knew what he would be doing had risks. And Im not sure that just because his goalkeeper made a miraculous recovery and ended up right behind him lets him off the hook for handling the ball deliberately and directly in front of the goal.

What are your thoughts on this? I know this is a long post and I apologize. I hope Ive done the scenario justice and described it as well as I could. Thanks!

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Victor
I have had an opportunity to review the incident and your description is spot on.
The easy part is that the ball was deliberately handled by the defender which is a penalty kick. The tricky part is the colour of the card for the unsporting action of the defender.
Now I suspect that the referee opined that part of the action involved the save by the goalkeeper. When I looked at it the goalkeepers action seemed the most dominant as it is the GK that pushes the ball past the post at the same time as the ball is handled by the defender.
Now the question the refereee has to ask is whether a goal or goal scoring opportunity was denied? Well a goal scoring opportunity was not denied as the ball is knocked wide by the goalkeeper. Was a goal denied? The referee I suspect opined that the actions of the goalkeeper was in itself sufficient to deny the goal rather than the defenders actions on his own
It is a tricky one and it is somewhat of a crystal ball gazing exercise on what would have happened without the deliberate handling. Without the presence of the goalkeeper using his hand as well it was certainly a red card. I believe there was sufficient doubt to go with the caution only and in the context the best decision for the game.
Perhaps another way to look at it is to move the defender and the goalkeeper apart with the ball trajectory unchanged. In that scenario we can say for certainty that a goal scoring opportunity was not denied as the opportunity was taken by the header and that the goalkeeper saved the goal on his own so that a goal was not denied.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Victor,
I think you covered the situation very well.

The denial of a goal as a deliberate act is considered within the LOTG as an accountable action worthy of the send off and the red card sanction. There is a subtle difference in a denial of a scoring opportunity versus denial of a goal because a shot directed towards the goal that WOULD miss or WOULD be saved is a bit different then if the attempt on the goal has YET to be made!

It is why there are TWO DOGSO options as a ball on its way towards the goal is different then a shot yet to be taken. The CRITERIA to consider is a combination of factors that are BASED on the opinion of the referee if they fulfill all of them to his or her satisfaction.

If we observed an opponent deliberately sticking out an arm preventing an attacker's pass to an open attacking teammate who had an open goal to shoot at that is sufficient misconduct to award the red card yet if we see a SHOT at the goal that in our opinion was going wide we are fine with a caution and yellow.

If the end result off a deliberate handling is a goal then we do NOT go with red card . If there is no goal then we will go with a red card if we hold the opinion that the ball WOULD have scored!

If we hold an opinion the keeper was there to stop it or the ball was going wide or high we would NOT use the red card send off but fall back to the yellow caution as a secondary option befitting the situation!

In arriving at ANY decision to act or not act as referees we evaluate circumstances and use our knowledge of the laws & the situational awareness of each incident in context with the NEED to act & what is our best course of action for the benefit of the game & players.

I believe the use of VAR was the reason the decision it was NOT a denial of a goal because the video CLEARLY showed was the keeper was there in behind to stop the ball. The PK restart & the caution versus a PK and a send off? In YOUR opinion was the match better off or would the match be better off if a send off was the decision? Easy send off if no keeper, debatable if keeper is there, less debatable keeper hands mirrored defender

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Victor,
I think the issue here revolves around whether, in the opinion of the referee, a goal would have resulted if the defender had not handled the ball. This referee apparently opined that if the defender had not committed a handling offence, the keeper would have stopped the ball going into the net anyway. I also think it's a question of differentiating between an unsporting attempt to deny a goal and the actual prevention of a goal. The referee has made the judgement that despite his unsporting behaviour, the player has not actually denied a goal.

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