Anthony, a High School and College referee, asks:
I have a scenario and am interested in the correct interpretation:
A6 is in Team B’s penalty area in an offside position. A Team A teammate passes her the ball. The defending goalie fouls A6 in a reckless manner in pursuit of the ball. Wondering if the offside takes precedence or if the foul takes precedence? Does the interpretation change if the ref blows the whistle for offside before the goalie fouls the attacker in the box because now it is a dead-ball foul?
You’ve already recognized the core issue in the scenario but didn’t explore it. Let’s clear away some underbrush first. There is no “precedence” here. It’s not a matter of hierarchy but timing. What happened first? That is what determines precedence here. It also doesn’t matter when the referee whistles — play is considered to have stopped when the referee makes a decision and the only question that matters is what was it that caused the referee to stop play. The reason for the stoppage occurred during play … anything after that happened when play was stopped.
Now we can get to unraveling the core issues (yes, issues because there are several of them).
Remember, an offside position is not an offside offense by itself so the referee needs to sort out whether there was an actual offside offense before the goalie’s action or whether, in fact, the goalie’s action actually prevented an offside offense from occurring. Also, your scenario doesn’t identify the specific foul the goalie committed recklessly — e.g., tackle, charge, kick, push, trip, etc. This is will be important later on.
As we said, the initial decision as to which came first is critical because it directly impacts the restart. If an offside offense (e.g., the attacker in an offside position interfered with play by making contact with the ball, or interfered with an opponent) occurred first, then the Law provides for an IFK restart at the offense location for the goalie’s team (prior to which the goalie is cautioned for USB for what he/she did to the attacker).
If there was no offside offense or if the referee determines that the goalie’s reckless DFK foul occurred first, then the restart would be a PK for the attacking team because the first decision automatically stopped play at that moment , determined the restart, and negated any apparent offside offense that might have occurred afterward. In this case, there is a second decision to be faced.
The second decision is whether, given all the facts and circumstances, the goalie’s foul denied an OGSO. If all the OGSO requirements were not present, then that’s the end of the story. PK, and the GK still gets cautioned for the reckless action.
If all the OGSO requirements are met, then there is a third decision that has to be faced and that is whether the GK’s action, recklessness aside, constituted a valid attempt to play the ball (your phrasing “in pursuit of the ball” is not specific enough and could include either a realistic play of the ball or the goalie was merely in pursuit of a ball which, at the moment of the reckless foul, was too far away to be realistically playable by the goalie). If the goalie’s action was a realistic play of the ball (performed without violence), then the PK stands but, despite the OGSO, the goalie is only cautioned.
However, if there was not a realistic attempt to play the ball (and here the earlier question about what the foul was becomes important because the Law considers such fouls as holding, pulling, pushing, or tripping from behind with the ball on the other side of the player being tripped as not attempts to play the ball), then there is the PK but the goalie is sent off and his/her team plays down.