Clarification of why certain situations do not meet the requirements (March 2, 2011):
Several questions have come in recently dealing with obvious goalscoring opportunities (OGSO) and we have replied based on the specific wording of each question. See entries of January 19, 2011 (DOGSO: THE DEBATE ON DG-F IS OVER!), and February 22, 2011 (DOGSO-F). It appears that some readers may have been confused by our replies (and in some cases, thought our answers were incorrect in any event). These scenarios have been discussed extensively and the following represents the single, condensed, and official response.

Scenario 1: Red takes a free kick from outside his own penalty area and inadvertently plays the ball toward the goal. The Red goalkeeper, to prevent a goal, stops it with his hands.

This cannot be an obvious goalscoring opportunity because a goal cannot be scored directly against the kicker’s own team on any free kick. The goalkeeper has committed an indirect free kick foul but there cannot be a red card send-off for the goalkeeper’s action based on this scenario.

Scenario 2: The Red goalkeeper punts the ball but the ball deflects from the referee and is heading back into the Red goal. To prevent this, the goalkeeper stops the ball with his hands.

Although a goal could be scored directly from the punt and the goalkeeper’s action did prevent a goal, it is again the case that a red card cannot be given in the scenario. First of all, the goalkeeper’s action involved handling — but not a handling offense — and handling by the goalkeeper is specifically exempted if it occurs within his team’s penalty area. Second, what about the argument that the “second touch” offense by the goalkeeper is punishable by a free kick? Doesn’t this come under the fifth send-off offense? The clear and unequivocal answer is, no. Denying a goal or goalscoring opportunity by an offense punishable by a free kick or penalty kick requires that the offense be committed against an attacker (in the language of the Laws of the Game: “an opponent moving towards the player’s goal ….”) Go back to the 4 Ds which we use to evaluate an OGSO: do any of them apply? The only one that could be considered relevant is “number of defenders” but the other three cannot be applied.

Distance to the ball? Whose distance? The attacker who was fouled … but there was no attacker who was fouled. Distance to the goal? Not applicable because there was no foul. What was the “direction of play” (not the direction of the ball)? Was the opponent who was fouled moving towards the goal? There was no opponent who was fouled.

In short, there can be no OGSO for either DG-F or DG-H if (a) the offense in question directly follows a restart performed by a player on the team which committed the offense or if (b) the offense was not committed against an opponent. The offense may result in a red card for other reasons but not for denying or interfering with an obvious goal-scoring opportunity.