An attacker goes down the wing, cuts in very close to the end line, enters the box, evades a defender and then the keeper comes to challenge along the end line. The attacker slips the ball between the keeper’s legs and runs around him off the pitch with the intention of collecting the ball on the other side and tapping it into the net.

However, the keeper grabs him by the ankles and brings him down (off the pitch). Is it a penalty (and a red card) or since the offence took place off the pitch is it a hop ball and a caution for the keeper for ungentlemanly conduct? Anyone know?

USSF answer (March 18, 2009):
Coach, if a player leaves the field to commit misconduct, the minimum punishment is a caution for unsporting behavior. We responded to this problem back on 24 February and what follows is a slightly modified version of that response, designed to answer your question. One caveat: It is not clear to us where the ‘keeper grabbed the attacker by the ankles. If it was while the player and the ‘keeper were on the field, but the player fell off the field, then the restart would be a penalty kick.

Regarding misconduct off the field of play: In its guidelines for 2008/2009, the International Board in effect created two scenarios for when the referee stops play for misconduct committed off the field by a player. In the first case, the referee must decide if the player left the field in the normal course of play and, while off the field committed the offense. In this case, after dealing with the misconduct, the referee will restart play with a dropped ball where the ball was when play was stopped (except for the special circumstances involving restarts in the goal area). However, if the referee decides that the player left the field for the purpose of committing the offense and after dealing with the misconduct, play is restarted with an indirect free kick for the opposing team where the ball was when play was stopped (except for the special circumstances involving restarts in the goal area).

In the first case, a dropped ball is the correct restart, based on the fact that misconduct was committed off the field. In the second case, an indirect free kick is the correct restart because the player has illegally left the field before committing the restart.

One must remember that the indirect free kick restart is not for the misconduct committed off the field, but for the illegal exit from the field.

That, of course, opens up an interesting discussion of whether, since misconduct was committed in the departure as well as in the conduct off the field, then it would follow that the referee could also give a second yellow and then a red. But that decision would be up to the referee on that game, at that moment, with those players, and in that specific situation.

Not dealt with here is the matter of whether or not this act of misconduct involved the use of excessive force, which would result in a sending off of the goalkeeper.

We hope this answers your question.

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