I am a new referee and worked as center in a tournament. One of my ARs is very experienced and was giving me an informal evaluation. As luck would have it there was a difficult decision to be made in the 3rd minute of the game.

Blue player dribbled into the box where red goalkeeper fouled him when diving for the ball. The ball continued to roll towards the goal and blue attacking player, trying to keep his feet, stumbled for a few steps before falling. I signaled for a penalty. There was another defender on the far corner of the goal, trying to race into position.

This was a U14 game. I did not card the gk, as I interpreted his play as a foul, nothing reckless or more.

After the game the experienced AR told me I should have sent off the GK because any DOGSO-F by a GK is a red card. I didn’t interpret it as a DOGSO-F because of the defender by the corner of the goal. He did because there was no defending player was between the ball and goal.

I interpreted it as he was still “between” the ball/player and the goal because he was still affecting play. By the way, during the stumbling of the attacker, the ball bounced off the goal post and stayed in play. Was I wrong? Thanks for your time.

USSF answer (December 10, 2011):
The AR’s apparent suggestion, as stated in your question, that a foul by the goalkeeper is automatically a send-off for DOGSO-F is not correct (see below). Your interpretation of the 4 Ds in denial of a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity could also use some review. The first D, number of defenders, states that there not be more than one defender between the foul and the goal, not counting the defender who committed the foul. That was the case in your situation (again see below).

The goalkeeper could have been sent off and shown the red card for denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the player’s goal by an offense punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick.

Not only was the AR wrong about the alleged automatic red card nature of the situation, he was also wrong about there not being any defending player between the ball and the goal — there was, the defender whom you describe as “on the far corner of the goal, trying to race into position.” The AR was wrong about interpreting this D as requiring that the defender(s) be on some sort of geometric line drawn from the foul to the center of the goal. The only requirement is that there be no more than one defender “between the site of the foul and the goal who is able to defend”. This defender WAS … the only problem is that there was only one of him. In other words, he clearly “counted” but there were just were enough of them, one.