I did a search back to early 2004, went to the FIFA site, and several other sites and I can’t seem to find any definitive information. This question pertains to the time period a keeper has to release the ball. If a keeper makes a diving save and either rolls or skids across the ground, at what point does the time limit start? Granted, the keeper intentionally holding the ball would be unsportsmanlike. In the case where the momentum of the goalkeeper carries him after the save, would not the time start at the point in which the keeper has the ability to rise?USSF answer (April 3, 2007):
The ‘keeper has six seconds to release the ball into play, once he or she has established possession–and is able to put the ball into play. This means that the goalkeeper may have to right him-/herself if on the ground and then rise or be able to come to a definite stop if running when taking possession of the ball. These things take time and should not be included in the allowed six seconds. This is, of course, in the opinion of the referee, who also keeps track of time remaining in the game and exercises common sense in adding time for reasonable time lost–the same idea.

Many referees are too eager to begin counting the six seconds, as if those seconds were a magic number that could not be altered through the use of common sense. If you were to keep track of the elapsed time in goalkeeper possession in the top games around the world, you would find that goalkeepers use (and referees allow) anywhere from eight to ten seconds on average. The only time the top referees punish such infringements are when they become habitual and are clearly designed to waste time. Do not let this insignificant matter of a few seconds ruin an otherwise perfectly good game. Remember that the referee can always add time.

And to give you a reference, here is an excerpt from the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”:

The goalkeeper has six seconds to release the ball into play once he or she has taken possession of the ball with the hands. However, this restriction is not intended to include time taken by the goalkeeper while gaining control of the ball or as a natural result of momentum. The referee should not count the seconds aloud or with hand motions. If the goalkeeper is making a reasonable effort to release the ball into play, the referee should allow the “benefit of the doubt.” Before penalizing a goalkeeper for violating this time limit, the referee should warn the goalkeeper about such actions and then should penalize the violation only if the goalkeeper continues to waste time or commits a comparable infringement again later in the match. Opposing players should not be permitted to attempt to prevent the goalkeeper from moving to release the ball into play.

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