(Originally published on 7/7/17, “Operation Restore”)
Edward, a U-12 & Under Referee, asks:
I was the AR on a U-12 game where the goalkeeper took a goal kick but a fairly strong wind (gusts over 30 mph) blew the ball backwards across the team’s own goal line but without ever leaving the penalty area. After discussing the situation with the Referee, we decided that the goal kick should be retaken. Is that the right call?
Yes. Good job. Actually, the ball did leave the penalty area but only by leaving the field at the same time. The requirement in Law 16 for the ball to be in play is that the ball must leave the penalty area but remain on the field for at least some period of time, no matter how short that period of time may be. Think of a goal kick struck from the top of the goal area backwards toward a teammate standing just outside the goal area but above the goal line — the ball leaves the goal area just above where it intersects with the goal line and then continues off the field. In this case, the ball was properly put into play and the restart must be a corner kick because the ball left the field across the goal line after being last touched by a defender.
In the scenario you describe, the only fact that must be determined in order to get the restart right is that the ball didn’t travel far enough against the wind to leave the penalty area — since most goal kick attempts are aimed more or less straight upfield, it is the penalty area line (i.e., the one across the top of the penalty area) which becomes the critical determinant. And who is usually in the best position to judge this? You are, the AR, because you took a position on the touch line in line with the top of the penalty area to monitor (a) that the ball left the penalty area and (b) that no opponent or defender made contact with the ball after it was kicked but before it left the penalty area.