What’s My Line (and other matters)?

Abdullah, an adult pro player, asks:

1- if a Goalkeeper holds the ball exactly on the penalty area line , is that allowed ?
If that is allowed, what if he holds the ball and 80% of the ball was on the line and the rest is outside of the line ? (What are the punishments if..)

2- if there is a foul or an offside inside the PA, is it right the goalkeeper can put the ball anywhere in the penalty area to play ? Because I see goalkeepers take the ball up to the penalty area line even if the offside or the foul was near to the goal.

3- if a defender deliberately passes the ball back by his shin, is the goalkeeper allowed to hold the ball ?


Actually three answers.

  1. Yes.  Still yes.  None
  2. No.  They are wrong (and so is the Referee).
  3. Yes.

OK, perhaps you would like a bit more detail.

  1. All lines (except the midfield line, which is special) are a part of the area they enclose.  As with the touchline, a ball which is on the touchline — or even just 80% on the touchline — is still in the field.  So, a ball held by the goalkeeper which is even a little bit on the penalty area line is still in the penalty area and is thus being legally held.  By the way, considering the diameter of a soccer ball and the maximum width of the penalty area line, it ought to be obvious that it is physically impossible for the ball to be held “exactly” on the penalty area line — at least some part of it has to not be on the penalty line.  Also by the way, it doesn’t matter (so there is no punishment).
  2. It is one of the usually accurate generalizations in soccer that restarts are taken from where the offense occurs.  Some exceptions are obvious (e.g., DFK offense committed by a defender inside his own penalty area = penalty kick).  Some are specifically provided for in the Law (e.g., stopping play for a violation of Law 4 = taken where the ball was when play was stopped).  While in practice there is usually some “wiggle room” in actually spotting the ball for most free kick offenses (e.g., the farther away the official restart location is from the goal being attacked, the more “wiggle room” there is), the Law itself is quite clear as to what is required.  What you have described is the result of players being allowed to push, if not actually exceed, the limits of the Law by Referees lacking either a spine or good sense.  Allowing a variance of as much as, say, 5-6 yards might be justified under some circumstances, but moving a restart from in front of the goal to nearly 18 yards away  (just inside the penalty area) is ridiculous.  We are actually hoping that you have mistaken the goal area with the penalty area.  A free kick given the defending team for an offense which occurred within that team’s goal area is allowed to be taken from anywhere within the goal area.
  3. One of the very first questions that was asked and answered after the Laws of the Game were modified in the early 1990s to make illegal what quickly came to be called the “pass back to the keeper” offense was: what was meant by “kicked”?  The answer was swift and sure — it meant played with the foot.  This is not a case of “the hand” including the entire arm (as in a handling offence): “the foot” means “the foot” and only “the foot” as defined by a human’s anatomy.  The most common definition of “the shin” is the front part of the leg from the knee to the ankle (most often associated with the tibia).  “The foot” is thus defined as the rest of the leg at and below the ankle.  So, a ball played by the shin is not counted as having been played by the foot and, accordingly, there is no restriction regarding the goalkeeper handling the ball if it was was propelled by the shin (or the knee, the chest, the head, etc., just not the hand (including the arm).  By the way, as we have said in earlier answers regarding the “pass back to the keeper” offense, this is one of the worst ways to describe what this violation of the Law is all about: it doesn’t have to be a pass, it doesn’t have to be back, and it doesn’t have to be to the keeper.