THE 4 Ds

I have some questions regarding DOGSO (Denying an Obvious Goal Scoring Opportunity). In US Soccer’s Advice to Referee’s, it states that there are four criteria that must be present for DOGSO.
1. Number of Defenders
2. Distance to the Goal
3. Distance to the Ball
4. Direction of PlayThe first element, number of players says that not more than one defender can be between the foul and the goal, not counting the player that committed the foul. It is possible to have defenders closer to the goal than the location of the foul. If those defenders are not directly between the foul and the goal should they be considered in criteria number one? Should we take the first element of DOGSO with a narrow view or should we look at it with a broader perspective? Should defenders that are closer to the goal than the foul always be counted for DOGSO or never be counted? Or should the referee make a judgement call?

Can a DOGSO foul be committed off the field of play when players leave the pitch temporarily during the natural course of the game? Also would defenders who left the field through the natural course of the game be in consideration for element one of DOGSO?

My next questions are also regarding DOGSO. Is a substitute or player that illegally enters the field considered a defender in determining criteria number one?

USSF answer (May 8, 2007):
With regard to the first question, the defenders to be counted are those who are actually able to defend (which is the underlying purpose of this D anyway). Likewise, the understanding of “between” or “closer than” is in the same context — is the defender able to defend? This is not an exercise in geometry, it is decision about whether there is more than one defender who is or would be able to interfere with the fouled player’s drive to the goal in such a way as to lessen the obviousness of the opportunity to score. Accordingly, a second defender lying on the ground in a straight line between the fouled attacker and the goal whose leg was broken would likely not be counted, whereas a defender just a yard away from the goal on the left far off the line the fouled attacker was taking from the right in his drive to the goal probably should be counted.

As for whether a defender off the field could do something that would cause him to be sent off under DGF/DGH, we suspect that a fitting scenario would be VERY, VERY RARE. However, consider the following sequence of events: B5 is ordered off the field to correct a bleeding problem. While off the field being attended to, B5 sees A20 attacking down the middle of the field just above the penalty area with no one at all between him and the goal (the keeper had come out but his challenge, which was unsuccessful, left him on the ground). B5 picks up an object and throws it onto the field. (A) It strikes the attacker who is startled/injured/thrown off his stride/etc. or (B) it strikes the ball and knocks it away from A20’s control. Wouldn’t (A) be DGF and (B) be DGH? We know from other situations that FIFA considers a thrown object an extension of the hand and we also know that merely inserting a body part onto the field is considered the functional equivalent of entering the field.

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