Friday 12 August 2011

Goalkeepers and Handling or Possession Rights

The following incident occurred during an MLS match between LA Galaxy and San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday 25 June 2011. The match finished 0—0.

In the 85th minute, an Earthquakes attacker (blue) kicks the ball towards the Galaxy goal. The goalkeeper Mike Magee—who was the third-choice keeper following an injury and a send-off, respectively, for LA Galaxy's first- and second-choice keepers—parries the ball with his hands and then gives up handling rights by kicking the ball a few times along the ground to the side of the penalty area. Then when an opponent (blue) attempts to challenge for the ball, Magee picks up the ball with his hands. Here are the freeze frames:

Has the goalkeeper (black) committed an offence?

The Referee (Juan Guzman) allowed play to continue. Furthermore, there was no outcry from commentators, coaches, players and fans. Did anyone at the match know the Laws of the Game? What is the correct decision here?

The Laws clearly state that: an indirect free kick should be awarded to the opposing team if a goalkeeper, inside his own penalty area, touches the ball again with his hands after he has released the ball from his possession and before it has touched another player.

Also, take a look at the third-choice goalkeeper's attire.

Galaxy goalkeeper Mike Magee is wearing a #12 shirt with #18 shorts

Magee, being an outfield player but made goalkeeper during the match, did not have the correct goalkeeper shorts but nevertheless perhaps some white tape to cover up the #18 could have been the minimum effort afforded to avoid any potential misunderstandings and complaints. In addition, in this day and age, it is perhaps inconceivable that a squad of professional soccer players does not possess spare goalkeeper shorts.

In summary, it was a challenging match for the referee, and it is a given that he learned many important lessons from this match. Referees who watch this match can also learn many valuable lessons.


  1. I think you're a bit harsh on the shorts...the laws only state that the goalkeeper wears colours which distinguish him from the referee, ARs, team-mates and opposition, and a differently coloured shirt is sufficient to fulfill that criteria. Doesn't even mention numbers. It's an overly fussy, pedantic referee who'll stop the match for maybe 5 minutes to get the goalkeeper to cover up the number on his shorts. At any level.

  2. IMO treating parrying as possession should be removed from the Laws. No one treats it that way. No players, no coaches, no fans, no refs. The referee should never be the ONLY person with a certain opinion, i.e. both teams disagree. (Not counting wanting to continue playing during a thunder storm.)