Tim, a U13 – U19 player, asks:
I have two questions:
1. I was called for a foul in game for blocking the goalkeeper from punting the ball. But after searching the rule online, I found that my play was not like any of the given circumstances. As the goalkeeper tossed the ball up to punt it, I started my run up toward the keeper and, after he made contact with the ball, I blocked it. The ref said that I blocked the the keeper, but I don’t think that makes sense. What does blocking the keeper really mean?
2. What counts as an attacking position? In that same game mentioned in the first question, the ref called the game over after a player on my team lost the ball after he was elbowed in the face. The ball rolls out of the box and the ref does not call a foul, but ends the game. His reasoning was that time had been up and we were out of an attacking position. But 8 players of our team, plus the entire other team were in the box, and our players were the closest to the ball at that point. So what is an attacking position exactly?
Purely as a matter of Law, there is no such offense as “blocking the keeper” – what you described is, using the terminology of the Law, interfering with the goalkeeper’s release of the ball into play. That “release” is further understood to include the process of physically releasing the ball in preparation for a kick. In your first scenario, you definitely interfered. As a matter of mechanics, however, most referees would have stepped in the moment they saw you not only NOT retreating but, worse, moving closer, and shouted for you to get back. Failing to do so is not only an offense (indirect free kick restart) but also cautionable as unsporting behavior.
The Laws of the Game provide a relatively simple answer to your second question. By common definition, every player on the team which has control of the ball or which last had control of the ball is an attacker … everyone else is a defender. This includes circumstances in which the ball is not in play, in which case the team that has the restart are the attackers. The only time in a game in which there are no attackers or defenders is during the midgame break.