Question:
During a recent Men’s intramural game the Goal Keeper went for a low hard shot and collected the ball but due to his momentum running for the ball and a wet field, he slid outside the penalty area. In my opinion he was unable to stop and slid out by a few feet but did have possession of the ball when he slid out. Immediately the attacking team was calling for a “hand ball”. In my opinion he played the ball in the area and did not deliberately handle the ball outside the penalty area. I allowed him to get up and go inside the area and release the ball. After the match several players and referees approached me and disagreed with my call saying I should have awarded a DFK. Your opinion please.

USSF answer (August 11, 2009):
Our opinion, and it is strictly opinion, is that if the condition of the field caused the goalkeeper to handle the ball outside the penalty area, the referee COULD apply the common sense notion of a “trifling offense” and do as you did, allowing the goalkeeper to return to the penalty area and release the ball into play for others.

However, we must point out that the Law does not recognize weather conditions and the correct decision would be to award a direct free kick for deliberately handling the ball.  Although we need to remember that the Laws of the Game were not written to compensate for the mistakes of players, that does not apply in this case.

There is no case to be made here for saying that the goalkeeper’s handling offense prevented a goal, so there would be no reason for showing a red card to the goalkeeper.