In a U15 game the keeper made a play for the ball and went to ground at the edge of the box. She fumbled the ball with her body, and both she and the ball slide outside of the box. By the time she finally grabbed the ball with her hands both she and the ball were about a foot or so outside the box, and about two-thirds of the way up from the goal line. The lead attacker had run past the keeper and the ball at this point. There were other defenders in the box, but roughly in-line with the keeper and not deep in front of the goal. As center I called a direct kick, which the attackers took immediately while the keeper with still trying to get up (no resulting goal). The attacking team’s coach was insistent that the goalkeeper should have gotten a red card. In fact he stated at halftime that a red card was “automatic” in that situation. The goal scoring opportunity did not seem “obvious” to me at the time, and in looking at 12.37(b) in the “Advice” I don’t believe that all four conditions where firmly in place, although they were certainly on the margin.

I had two very experienced refs as ARs. One (on my end of the field but on opposite side of the play) agreed with my call. The trailing AR thought I should have at least shown the keeper a yellow card but did not want to second guess the details given his position.

(a) Should I have ejected the keeper in this case? (b) Would a yellow card been appropriate and why (the keeper appeared to have made an error in confusion)? (c) If the keeper is ejected at this point is it appropriate to allow the defenders time to designate and suit up a replacement before the direct kick?

USSF answer (April 14, 2008):
(a) No.
(b) No.
(c) Yes; and not only would it have been appropriate, it would have been MANDATORY. Law 3 requires the team to have a goalkeeper.

And some answers to unposed questions:
(d) No matter what coaches say, there is no such thing as an “automatic red card.”
(e) ┬áThe keeper’s violation was trifling under virtually all possible readings of the circumstances.
(f) There is no need to assess the “4 Ds” for the obvious goalscoring opportunity, because there was no offense in the first place.

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