I have a question about some wording in the ATR guide. We have a local facebook group where one of the guys posted this scenario:

A defender is taking a free kick outside of the penalty area and passes the ball back to where he thinks the goalkeeper is. The goalkeeper, in actuality isn’t there and now the ball is rolling towards an empty net. The defender realizes an attacker is charging at the ball with intent to score. Just before the attacker reaches the ball to shoot it in, the defender slides in a taps the ball away with his foot. The second touch by the defender is an infringement resulting in an IFK — Should it also be DOGSO-F? Should the defender be sent off?

In the ATR 12:37, it says a DOGSO when a player or substitute “(b) denies an obvious goalscoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the player’s goal by an offence punishable by a free kick or penalty kick”.

Is a second touch considered an offence or infringement? If it’s not a DOGSO, then perhaps the wording needs to be changed in the ATR so that this statement can’t be taken out of context.

USSF answer (February 22, 2011):
Please remember that the acronym DOGSO-F does not exist in the Laws of the Game. It is simply a device to aid the referee’s memory. In accordance with Law 12, sending-off offense 5, a player, substitute or substituted player may be sent off if he commits any offense “denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the player’s goal by an offense punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick.” The F in the acronym stands for “free kick or penalty kick,” not “foul.”

Is the second touch an infringement punishable by an indirect free kick for the opposing team? Yes, it is. May the defender be sent off for this infringement in the scenario you present? No, because there is no obvious goalscoring opportunity (as the ball going into the goal directly would result in a corner kick for the opposing team) and thus no obvious goalscoring opportunity has been denied.

There is no need to revise the Advice in this regard.

Further clarification:
Denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity in the express language of Law 12 requires that the offense be committed against an opponent who is moving toward the offender’s goal at the time of the offense. The offense which is central to this scenario was not committed against any opponent, much less one moving toward the player’s goal at the time. The language of Law 12 is very clear—we assume purposely—about separating out two different reasons for sending a defender off for a so-called tactical or “professional” foul: one is handling, which is not committed against any opponent but against the Spirit of the Game, and the second is any other kind of foul which IS committed against a specific opponent. One cannot help but conclude from this that a foul or misconduct, regardless of the circumstances, which is not committed against an opponent and which is not handling is therefore not a sending-off offense under Law 12 (at least not under reasons #4 or #5. If it was a tactical foul (which this was not) and was the offender’s second caution, then there would be a send-off, just not under sending-off reasons #4 or #5.

Nor is sending-off reason #4 at issue, because it is limited solely to a handling offense, not just touching the ball (which might include a second touch offense).