Marc, a high school and college parent, asks:
In a recent game, the goalie had possession of the ball while standing with both hands on the ball.. As the ball was held at about hip level waiting for the defense to move out, a player on the opposite team jogging by the keeper kicked the ball out of the keepers hands by hitting the keepers hands with the studs of his cleats. This caused both teams to come together almost resulting in a fight. The referee cautioned the player who kicked the ball out and ended up red carding the goalie for dissent . Did the referee make the correct call? Everybody at the match felt the player should have been sent off for violent conduct.
In general, kicking, striking, and spitting are considered red-cardable offenses unless there is clear evidence to mitigate the response to the offense down to a caution. This is opposite to the approach to all other direct free kick offenses where the referee starts with “careless” (no card at all) and then needs concrete evidence to justify treating them as “reckless” (a caution) or “excessive force” (a red card) events. It is possible that the referee (incorrectly) showed only a caution because he or she thought that this came under the special circumstances of “denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity” but this doesn’t even come close to applying because (a) the perpetrator was an attacker rather than a defender, (b) the action of kicking an opponent (as I mentioned) starts as a red card offense and then requires special circumstances to do anything less serious than a red card, and (c) the attacker was not “competing for the ball” because, while in the hands of the goalkeeper, the Law does not allow for an attacker to challenge in any way.
We can’t speak to the issue of the red card to the goalkeeper for “dissent” because, without more information, this is contrary to the Laws of the Game on its face. Under Law 12, dissent is cautionable misconduct, and a red card would be correct only if the dissent included language which was abusive, insulting, or offensive OR the referee correctly cautioned the goalkeeper for dissent but this was the goalkeeper’s second caution in the game, in which case the red card would NOT be for dissent but for having received a second caution.
The opponent should have been shown a red card because the kick involved excessive force, the goalkeeper could be shown only a caution if the GK’s actions involved only dissent, and play should be restarted with a direct free kick coming out from where the kick occurred.
The above observations are sufficiently fundamental to the sport of soccer that they would apply regardless of whether the game occurred rules other than the Laws of the Game (e.g., NFHS/highschool or NCAA/college rules).