Denying an Obvious Goal Scoring Opportunity

Published on October 26, 2017

Todd Abraham

Todd Abraham, NISOA Senior Director of Instruction

By: Todd Abraham, Sr. Director of Instruction

This past winter, the NCAA aligned the DOGSO rules with the IFAB Laws of the Game.  The rule change (which was sent to all NISOA officials and reviewed at all pre-season clinics) now reads as follows:

12.5.5 Denies the opposing team a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball, wherever the offense occurs.

12.5.6 Denies an obvious goal-scoring opportunity outside the penalty area by an offense punishable by a direct free kick.

12.5.7 Denies the opposing team an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by committing an offense against an opponent in the penalty area and the referee awards a penalty kick, the offending player is cautioned unless:

  1. The offense is holding, pulling or pushing;
  2. The offending player does not attempt to play the ball or there is no possibility for the player making the challenge to play the ball; or
  3. The offense is one which is punishable by a red card wherever it occurs on the field of play (e.g. serious foul play, violent conduct etc.). In all the above circumstances the player is issued a red card.

Rationale: Currently, NCAA rules require that if a defender commits any direct free kick offense resulting in denial of an obvious goal-scoring opportunity, the referee must issue a red card. This may lead to an excessively harsh punishment referred to as “double jeopardy” where a penalty kick is awarded and the defender is also issued a red card. In 2016, FIFA changed its Law to allow the referee discretion to issue a caution in certain circumstances, depending on the nature of the foul. The committee recommends this rule change to align with the FIFA Law and fundamental fairness to avoid an excessively harsh penalty.

There has been some confusion regarding DOGSO and offenses that are not committed against an opponent.  If the goalkeeper uses his hands to stop a pass back from a teammate from entering the goal (rule 12.3 “note”), the restart is an indirect free kick and the goalkeeper is NOT ejected for DOGSO.

The second specific situation which requires clarification is when a player touches the ball a second time on a free kick to prevent the opponent from an obvious goal scoring opportunity.  For example, the defender is restarting after an offside violation at the top of the penalty area when he flubs the kick and realizing the attacker would have a clear breakaway, kicks the ball a second time before the attacker can get to the ball.  This is also NOT DOGSO as 12.5.6 requires the offense to be a direct free kick offense.  The restart would be an indirect free kick for the opponents from the spot where the defender played the ball the second time.

2 Responses to “Denying an Obvious Goal Scoring Opportunity”

  1. I believe Todd has made an error in his “DOGSO” email statement on offenses outside the penalty area. Excuse me if I am incorrect but,

    the email message states:

    “12.5.6 Denies an obvious goal-scoring opportunity outside the penalty area by an offense punishable by a direct free kick.”

    As I understand it, the offense does not to be a direct free kick violation. Any offense committed outside the penalty area which would result in a free kick calls for a red card/send off/ ejection.

    What am I missing ?

    • Ron,
      Thanks for your comments. When the NCAA rewrote the DOGSO rule to more closely mirror IFAB, they made the change outlined in 12.5.6 which limits DOGSO outside the penalty area to a direct free kick offense. This IS different than the IFAB law which allows for any free kick offense. This remains a rule difference between NCAA and IFAB.