Scenario: A football keeper throws the ball in the air to kick it out, but the other team's striker kicks it away before the keeper can make contact. The striker scores on the play. Should the goal be disallowed?


2 Answers 2


This goal would not be allowed, as the ball is still considered in the goalie's possession.

While the ball is in the possession of the goalkeeper, it cannot be played by an opponent. Any attempt to do so may be punished by a direct free kick. "In the possession of the goalkeeper" is defined as the goalkeeper having the ball trapped between one hand and a surface (which may include the other hand, the ground, a goalpost, or the keeper's own body). International Board Decision Two of Law 12 emphasizes that the hand includes any part of the hand or arm. However, as stated in the Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game (Advice 12.16 and 12.17), the goalkeeper is also considered to be in possession of the ball while bouncing it on the ground or while throwing it into the air. Possession is given up if, while throwing the ball into the air, it is allowed to strike the ground. ...


When is Possession Lost? The critical question is when the goalkeeper has released the ball into play and thus has allowed the ball to be played by an opponent. Based on traditional interpretations of this issue and the International Board's Questions and Answers, the referee should consider the ball as having been released into play after leaving the goalkeeper's hands only if the goalkeeper has completed a throw or kick (punt) and the goalkeeper is not able directly to possess the ball again in his or her hands. Thus, the ball is not playable by an opponent during the entire time it is being held by the goalkeeper (including when the ball is being bounced on the ground) or during the entire process of being released into play (including the action of throwing or kicking/punting the ball). In short, opponents may play the ball only if the goalkeeper has clearly distributed the ball by kicking or throwing it.


  • Possession is given up if, while throwing the ball into the air, it is allowed to strike the ground. This is not correct. Jul 20, 2015 at 0:51
  • Please elaborate on how this is incorrect. If the keeper attempts to kick the ball and misses, allowing it to bounce, it becomes a live ball. @studro
    – Seplo
    Jul 20, 2015 at 0:55
  • The ball is still in possession of the goalkeeper if it is allowed to bounce. See the 2015/16 FIFA Laws of the Game, page 122. Jul 20, 2015 at 1:00
  • 1
    @studro They're attempting to differentiate (perhaps poorly) between a keeper tossing the ball in the air for a kick, and a keeper "dribbling" the ball basketball-stype on the ground, as they often do.If they toss the ball in the air and miss the kick, it's a live ball. This is in the directions to the referees, so things like that tend to be left a bit more open to interpretation.
    – Joe
    Jul 20, 2015 at 17:15
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    @Studro, you do understand that a dropkick is referencing a punt, where the keeper drops the ball and kicks it while it is in the air.
    – Seplo
    Jul 21, 2015 at 18:20

Yes, the goal should be disallowed. It also makes no difference as to whether the ball has hit the ground (ie. for a dropkick rather than a punt).

The restart of play is an indirect free kick for playing in a dangerous manner, awarded to the goalkeeper's team.

The relevant information from the 2015/16 FIFA Laws of the Game, pages 122 - 123:

A goalkeeper is considered to be in control of the ball:

  • while the ball is between his hands or between his hand and any surface (e.g. ground, own body)
  • while holding the ball in his outstretched open hand
  • while in the act of bouncing it on the ground or tossing it into the air

When a goalkeeper has gained possession of the ball with his hands, he cannot be challenged by an opponent.


A player must be penalised for playing in a dangerous manner if he kicks or attempts to kick the ball when the goalkeeper is in the process of releasing it.

and on page 38:

An indirect free kick is also awarded to the opposing team if, in the opinion of the referee, a player:

  • plays in a dangerous manner
  • But it does make a difference whether it has hit the ground. If the keeper attempts a kick and flubs it, then the ball is live and he has given up the ball. It is the same if he misses the kick entirely.
    – Seplo
    Jul 20, 2015 at 2:04
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    Do you have a source released by FIFA to support this assertion? Jul 20, 2015 at 2:44
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    There clearly has to be some point at which the goalkeeper is deemed to have given up possession - they can't roll the ball 20 metres downfield and claim "I'm drop kicking, I just didn't do it very well."
    – Philip Kendall
    Jul 20, 2015 at 6:29
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    Rolling the ball along the ground would be relinquishing possession. As quoted, letting the ball bounce once is definitely not. Jul 20, 2015 at 11:01

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