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2011 Referee Week in Review - Week 27



Referee Week in Review – Week 27

The Situation: Real Salt Lake is ahead 1-0 against Sporting KC in the 83rd minute.

The Play: Having gained possession of the ball, the Real Salt Lake goalkeeper moves towards the top of the area and begins to attempt a punt. A defending player approaches from behind and restricts the movement of the goalkeeper, who tries to catch the ball and loses control.

The Decision: The referee calls a foul for interference and orders an indirect free kick for the attacking team.

My Take: The goalkeeper is considered to be in possession of the ball even when he has released it from his hands as a part of a punt. This is part of the ‘act of distributing’ the ball and is protected by the laws of the game. A defending player may not interfere in any way.

The Laws of the Game: The interpretation of Law 12 outlines the definition of the goalkeeper being deemed to be in possession of the ball and outlines specific offenses against the goalkeeper that include:

  • Prevent a goalkeeper from releasing the ball from his hands
  • A player must be penalized for playing in a dangerous manner if he kicks or attempts to kick the ball when the goalkeeper if in the process of releasing it
  • It is an offence to restrict the movement of the goalkeeper by unfairly impeding him, e.g. at the taking of a corner kick


The Situation: Columbus and Houston are tied 0-0 in the 11th minute.

The Play: An attacking player from Houston passes the ball, and as he begins a follow up run he is struck in the face by a Columbus defender who is attempting to impede his progress.

The Decision: The referee issues a straight red card.

My Take: The contact in this case is clear. Any player who deliberately makes contact with an opponent’s face with their hand must be issued a red card.

The Laws of the Game: Law 12 lists striking or attempting to strike an opponent as an offense. Section 12.6 of Advice to Referees further explains that striking suggests the use of some degree of force and should normally be considered misconduct of the gravest sort requiring a send-off and display of the red card.

Michael Kennedy is a current MLS referee and has officiated in the league since its founding in 1996. In addition to serving as a professional referee, he has also represented U.S. Soccer as both a FIFA referee and assistant referee.

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