This is a question for clarification of the Denying an Obvious Goal-Scoring Opportunity offense, particularly in reporting it. I am aware that for the DOGSO-H variety to be applied, in the U.S.A. we have the direction, “but for the handling, the ball would have entered the net” as a requirement. But, I am confused about 2 scenarios which by all rights should be DOGSO, but may not be, leading to massive game control issues. The scenarios:

Scenario A: An attacker is on a breakaway with no defenders around for 15 yards. Just outside the penalty area, within the arc, directly heading towards goal (all D’s met) the GK jumps down on top of the ball grabbing it away from the attacker’s feet outside of the penalty area. The attacker had not taken the “shot”, but if not for the illegal handling, an obvious goal scoring opportunity existed.

Send-off? DOGSO-F or DOGSO-H?

Scenario B: An attacker is on a breakaway. The GK is out of the area (pick a reason, i.e. whole team pushed up for corner kick, and he’s not very fast.) The attacker is outside or inside the penalty area, (which side of the 18 yard line only necessary in determining restart.) He has the ball at his feet, directly in between the goal posts and is heading straight towards goal. One defender manages to match his speed, but no other defenders within 15 yards. The defender dives, reaches out, and grabs the ball with his hands just before the attacker takes his shot. Now, the shot had not been taken, so it wasn’t headed into the goal.

However, all other aspects of the Obvious Goal Scoring Opportunity are present. The attacking team expects the send off, the defending team expects the send off, but according to the Guidance, “the ball was not headed into the goal but for the handling.” So, send-off? How would this be written up?


Your response and clarification would be most helpful, as some other referees and I can’t seem to meet agreement here.

USSF answer (November 19, 2011):
In Advice to Referees 12.37 the Federation has said that a red card for denying a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity requires that a goal be prevented: “applies to any player (or substitute) other than the goalkeeper in his own penalty area who handles a ball to prevent it from entering the goal … . A red card for denying a goal by handling cannot be given if the attempt is unsuccessful; in other words, if the ball goes into the goal despite the illegal contact.” Accordingly, the ball on its way into the net is the sine qua non of denying a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity — if it is prevented from going into the goal, it is a red card; if the ball goes into the goal anyway, it is not; and if the ball wasn’t going into the goal but was interrupted by a handling violation under conditions that meet the 4 Ds, it is a red card for denying a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity by an act punished by a free kick..