In regards to Law 12, awarding an Indirect Free Kick to the opposing team when the goal keeper “. . . takes more than six seconds while controlling the ball with his hands before releasing it from his possession”, there was a situation on a recent adult match.
During “active play”, the ball is picked-up by the goal keeper legally within his penalty area, and upon realizing that he was taking a bit long in releasing the ball back into play, I announced “six-seconds, keeper”. The keeper then drops the ball in front of him and begins to move the ball with his feet while still inside his own penalty area. The keeper was still trying to find one of his teammates to pass the ball to, and I announced “six-seconds” once again.
The two announcements of the six-second warning happened in about a four-second window, and then the keeper kicked the ball outside the penalty area.
After the second verbal announcement I made, one of the goal keeper’s teammates told me that the keeper was not in violation of the six-second rule because the keeper had released the ball from his position, thus the ball now being in active-play.
I was not sure if the actions explained here that the keeper took to not be in violation of the six-second time-limit was valid, thus avoided being cautioned for wasting time.
Could you please elaborate if in this situation the goal keeper violated the six-second rule, or not?
USSF answer (June 16, 2008):
Technically the goalkeeper must release the ball within six seconds of having established full control, which would not count rising from the ground or stopping their run (if they had to run) to gain the ball. However, goalkeepers throughout the world routinely violate the six-second rule without punishment if the referee is convinced that the goalkeeper is making a best effort.
Your warning to the goalkeeper was correct, at least on the first offense. However, once the ‘keeper has released the ball from his or her hands, the ball is now available for anyone to play with their feet — including the goalkeeper.