The question concerns what constitutes a foul with regard to an attacking player “marking up” the goalkeeper.
A typical scenario would be a a corner kick by team A.
Goalkeeper for team B is well postioned just in front of the goal line inside the posts, facing the corner the kick is coming from. A player from team A marks the keeper and positions themselves either directly infront of the keeper (literally with their back pressed to the keepers chest) or shoulder to shoulder.
As the keeper moves to clear some space, the attacker adjusts and maintains a similar posture, shadowing the keeper in what seems to clearly be an attempt to distract the keeper or impeed the keeper’s ability to see or play a ball without having to move around player A.
Does this constitute a foul by the marking player, perhaps as misconduct or can it be considered impeding the progress of a player?
In short, is it a foul? And if so, what steps can the keeper take to counter the tactic and not be consider guilty of pushing or dangerous play?
USSF answer (May 14, 2008):
If the referee sees the situation developing, there are two choices: wait until the ball has been kicked to see what happens or step in proactively.
1. If the referee waits until the ball has been kicked to see what happens, there are two possibilities. If the player who is posting on the goalkeeper is attempting to play the ball, his tactics are legitimate. On the other hand, if the player is clearly attempting to interfere with the goalkeeper’s ability to play the ball, the tactics are not legitimate and the referee should call the player for impeding the goalkeeper and award an indirect free kick to the goalkeeper’s team from the point of the foul — bearing in mind the special circumstances applying to infringements within the goal area.
Unless this tactic is repeated, there is no need to caution the impeding player.
As to countermeasures taken by the goalkeeper against the marking player, they should be punished only if the opposing player is clearly attempting to play the ball and not playing the goalkeeper. The referee must exercise common sense.
2. If the referee decides to be proactive, he or she may stop play before the kick takes place and step in immediately and prevent a foul or even misconduct from occurring by having a word with the prospective perpetrator, whether it is the marking player or the goalkeeper. This keeps the ball with the team that won the corner kick (or other restart) and should defuse a potential escalation of the action into misconduct.