High level U15 girls national championship series preliminary match. To set the scene – Game is tied 0-0 in the second half. White goalie comes out to near 18 and makes a save. Ball comes loose and blue forward hits ball off goalie. Goalie jumps on ball outside the 18 and is called for handling. Goalie then proceeds to argue with CR for 30-45 seconds (I believe stating that she had control when the blue player hit the ball which is not what I saw or what the CR saw). CR does not issue caution and says after the game that “this was a high level state cup game and emotions were high” so she did not issue a caution (AR stated during game that he would have cautioned keeper).

With 4 minutes left in game and white winning 1-0, white keeper makes another save and trips blue player just inside the 18. CR blows whistle and issues keeper (who is still holding the ball) a caution.

After a short discussion with keeper, CR backs off and allows keeper to punt. After the game, CR states that caution was for dissent and that she would have just dropped the ball to the keeper and allowed her to punt and since there was not much time left, she just allowed the keeper to punt.

How should this have been handled?

USSF answer (April 21, 2009):
While we might agree with the referee’s initial decision not to caution the goalkeeper for dissent because of the high emotional level of the game, we do not recommend allowing protracted sessions of “discussion” with any player. The referee should state her decision, take care of business (if any), and get on with the game. (And the AR should have kept his mouth shut unless speaking directly to the referee.)

The second decision raises three areas of concern.
– First, the caution for dissent may or may not have been correct, but if the referee saw it that way, then it was correct. We wonder if it should not have been for unsporting behavior (reckless play in tripping the opponent).
– The second area of concern is the possibility that there was an obvious goalscoring opportunity — we don’t have any details to determine one way or another.
– The third area of concern is the way the game was restarted — or “continued,” as a punt is definitely not a way to restart the game. A dropped ball is not possible. A punt is clearly an abomination. If the caution was for dissent, the only legal restart is an indirect free kick (not a dropped ball) for the opposing team where the goalkeeper committed the dissent. ¬†However, if the caution was for the goalkeeper tripping the opponent, then the correct restart is a direct free kick or, in this case, a penalty kick.

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