I was reading through the May 2009 Archive about the goalkeeper injury. This brought to mind a situation that I witnessed at my son’s High School match. I am a recreational referee, and realize that the high schools here in Texas play under UIL rules, not the LOTG. Nevertheless, the situation seems clear-cut. During the match an attacking forward was 1 v 1 with our goalkeeper. The attacker was playing the ball a yard or two in front of him and as he approached the goal box, the goalkeeper reached down to pick-up the ball. The attacker continued through, while the goalkeeper had his hands on the ball, and kicked or kneed the goalkeeper in the head, causing both players to go down. The contact was sufficiently hard to knock the goalkeeper unconscious and he was totally immobile. A defender was able to clear the ball in touch. The AR was parallel to the incident and had a clear view, but the CR was about a yard out of the center circle (where he spent the majority of the match.) The CR allowed the throw-in and the opposing team finally put the ball in touch so the goalkeeper (who literally had not moved at all the entire time) could be attended to. The CR had never made any made a call, never took any disciplinary action, and never even stopped play to address what was obviously a very seriously injured player, in large part because failed to be in a position to follow the active play.

1. Should this not have been a foul for kicking?
2. Should it not have warranted Sending Off for Serious Foul Play (excessive force), or at least a Caution for Unsporting Behavior (reckless)
3. Should not have play been stopped immediately when it was obvious the goalkeeper was unconscious (he was actually unconscious for well over a minute. When he went to the hospital, had a serious concussion and was out for a month.)

I believe I know the answers, but would like to get your take and how culpable is the CR for not being in position to see and the AR for not making him aware of the situation.

USSF answer (July 1, 2009):
If all was precisely as you describe it, then the following answers apply to your numbered questions.
1. Yes.
2. Yes, serious foul play.
3. Yes.

The referee is expected to cover as much of the field as possible to manage a game properly. Yes, the referee should have been close enough to play to see this incident and deal with it properly. In addition, the AR, given the poor positioning of the referee, should have passed the information to the referee. That point concerns us almost more than the referee’s dereliction of duty.

We recommend that this incident be reported to the authority that governs high school soccer in your area. The report should include date, place, time, teams, and a full description of the incident.

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