The laws of the game: A close up on Song impeding the keeper

By Walter Broeckx

As I am on my normal computer now I will try to give a short view on how it works with offences against goalkeepers which came up in the last Ref’s Review.

So again I start with the laws of the game.

Offences committed against goalkeepers

• It is an offence for a player to prevent a goalkeeper from releasing the ball from his hands

• 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

• It is an offence to restrict the movement of the goalkeeper by unfairly impeding him, e.g. at the taking of a corner kick

And now to the incident itself.  And if this works we have a novelty in our ref review and who knows maybe more to come in the future (if I don’t bring Tony’s servers down at the Untold headquarters) If you click on the link where it says Song impeding you should see a short video of the incident.

Song impeding

But as talking through the whole incident in such a short time is almost impossible I also took some pictures. And in these pictures I start a bit earlier (you can follow the time at the left side of the pictures). I do this just to show you how great the ref has handled this situation and has done it in a style that really is world class.

  • First warn and trying to prevent the situation.
  • Then calling the foul.
  • And then when players leave the area after the foul has been given when Song is passing by and asking the why, a quick explanation and the words: I warned you, you cannot do this. (These words are based on my interpretation of the body language of Song and the ref)

Van Persie is preparing the corner kick and Song has placed himself in front of the keeper.  You can see the ref looking at the keeper and Song checking if there is nothing wrong.

The ref has blown his whistle and you can see the assistant telling Van Persie to wait.  The ref is pointing to Song and the keeper and telling him he cannot move and he will call the foul against the keeper.

And then we go in to detail but this is a bit more difficult to see what is really happening.

The keeper spreads his arms and Song is moving in front of the keeper. And it is in this moment that the FIRST foul is done. By moving and jumping around in front of the keeper Song is restricting the movement of the goalkeeper and is  unfairly impeding him.  Because as Song is jumping and moving in front of the keeper the keeper cannot move without restriction. Next picture please.

And only then the keeper is putting his arms around Song. I think the keeper was trying to make it clear to the ref that when a player is jumping and moving in front of him (in a forbidden way) he cannot put his arms around the ball as there is a man between his arms. Technically you could argue that the keeper is holding Song and that the keeper is making a foul. But this doesn’t matter any more as you should always punish the first foul as a ref and the first foul was made before the keeper embracing Song.

And finally to make things worse for Song he even puts his arms wide open. So even if the ref would have neglected the first foul on the keeper from this moment on Song is really impeding the keeper because the keeper has to run 2 meters around Song to be able to have a free run to the ball.

Now I know that all of us who are used to seeing all kind of attacks on keepers may sit now with eyes wide open and think: is this a foul?  And yes this is a foul and this is how it should be dealt with. This is what they have told me and showed me every year, for a couple of years now, and this is what Fifa wanted to stop. And I know that every player has the right to be on the field and to be in any position on the field. But from the moment this position is impeding the goalkeeper you commit a foul. It is that simple. And we also know very well that a player in that position is doing this with the aim to impede the keeper in his movements. Or are we that naive to think that such a player goes over there by accident?

And then when you think of all the attacks on our keepers and all the rubbish that has been thrown at our keepers and all the bad words on how poor they are at corners and that we should buy a new world class keeper. I really think with some more world class English PL referees who do their games according to the rules would be a far better solution. And if I make a final suggestion to how we can stop these rugby tackling on keepers when there is a corner AND FREE KICKS AND LONG THROWS (there is only given an example in the rule book and the other ones can be also called by the ref) just to impede them to claim the ball.

My suggestion is to just give the players who do this a yellow card.  And no, I don’t mean that you should book a player when he goes in for the ball to head it and makes a jump from a few meters distance and collides with the keeper but the player who deliberately goes in front of a keeper with the intent to breaking the rules should be booked. It is intentionally done (or instructed to do so from his manager).  After that it will stop and we will see more football and less rugby with teams trying to bundle keepers over the line and shove them under the pitch. It’s time to make the rules respected and also this rule.

Thanks Mr. Tagliavento for giving me such a fine and clear example on how it should be. Hello  English PL refs out there : Have you seen it?

The Christmas present for the person who knows everything about Arsenal

Untold Arsenal.

Woolwich Arsenal

17 Replies to “The laws of the game: A close up on Song impeding the keeper”

  1. Thanks Walter for explaining this, and I was thinking the same as you at end of article. It would really be intersting if we would take a look at our last season in example and see how many goals we conceded from situation where Almunia or Fabianski were penalized this way (hm thought at last in 3 games I sow even worse). But if I remember well, we lost about 8 points last season for conceding goals from such situation.. So we would have 83 points. And how many such goals were turning points in game but weren’t winners? But still affected result on the end? So maybe it cost us crown.
    Maybe I am overreacting a bit, but not far from truth.

    And now something even more interesting, could maybe it be reason that we are “more serious contenders” for winning CL than EPL? Could maybe reason for it be referees who prize strength than technique in EPL, different from ones in CL who see game as mater of better technician = better football player. Could maybe it be reason rather than “Wenger obsession winning Champions League”?

  2. A good article and interesting read. You would think that as a professional referee rules are important to follow. Not completely blindly but when they stop an intentional foul. Clearly not in the EPL!?

  3. Hey, That was Song showing that he had learnt one or two things from Blackburn and Stoke City and trying it for size in a UEFA game. Pity it wasn’t an English referee at the center!!

  4. The rules of the game are open to interpretation by the referee’s as to what is acceptable and what is not, song really was simply standing there and 99% of the time it is not given as a foul.

  5. Its a pity that in epl u dont penalise for such fouls. The rules of football should be the same everywhere.

  6. Many thanks for that, even though I think you’ll be preaching to the converted in an Arsenal forum. Could you also consider a similar analysis of players impeding a quick free kick by quickly standing in front of the ball, esecially when in range of goal, until the wall is ready. I have never seen it penalised, but it seems to me to be bare-faced unsporting behaviour (i.e. cheating). Unlike other time wasting tricks (e.g. towels for throw-ins etc), this one prevents a legitimate move, i.e. a quick shot – far more serious than just delaying play. I’d be grateful to hear your professional view.

  7. Great post Walter… during the game, i thought Stojkovic made the foul, and i was cursing the keeper. Silly me…
    Keep it coming… Cheers…

  8. Guys, I really need ur help. Once Untold published an article regarding how SAF was influencing the referees. You mentioned that Ferguson had a hand in selecting the referee who would go to the World Cup. Could you please mention the source of that if possible? A Manure fan is reall on my back on this one when I mentioned this. I turn to you in my hour of need 🙂

  9. standing in the vicinity of the keeper when a free kick is taken is a technique i often teach to players. the trick is to be an obstacle that the keeper has to successfully negotiate and not to obsturct. unless you’re playing the ball, do not move to block the keeper.

    what many teams do is put a defender on my guy to block him off the keeper. that’s when i want the shoves and the pushes to come out as outfield players aren’t awarded the same protection that keepers are. also, that defender is another obstacle that the keeper must deal with.

    there are rules and there are ways around the rules. song messed up when he moved but had he stayed still and perhaps a yard away from the keeper, he could have still been the obstacle he set out to be.

  10. Great Article Walter.
    It’s amazing for 2 years we were been fouled consistently by the stokes blackburns etc of this world in just the same way and nothing was done but to criticise our defence and keepers by the media.
    There are many flaws in our refereeing BUT how do you suggest the situation is improved.

    We have had bad tackles poor decision making for far two long.
    I have often wondered why there isnt a promotion and demotion system in place for referees much like the league itself the good ones go up each year the poor back down.

    With obviously different pay structures for each division and some kind of bonus system for those who are top performers each season much like the clubs with TV rights the better you have been the better you are rewarded on top of obviously your weekly or match wage.

    Maybe with your type of analysis and score system in place to judge each one each week.

    What’s your thoughts Walter on how it can be improved ?

  11. awesome.. this is the very reason why i worship untold. i’ve never seen such information elsewhere..

    from what i see, almost every club is doing this against Arsenal. they will put at least afew players near our keeper and our defenders will have to push them away.. I was asking myself the other day why don’t Arsenal put someone in front of their keeper, and honestly, Arsenal don’t usually play such un-ethical football.. i believe Arsenal players was told to play it right.

    perhaps there should be some rules like no players should be 1 meters around the keeper or something like that? So long if someone is near the keeper, it will certainly be hard for him come out for the ball.

  12. wow cant count how many times this was done against us in the last 5 games of last season.

    If all the refs were fair and equal no one would need to complain and if some one did we could just point the rules out to them and say look its the same for every one so shut up dont know how many decisions went man united’s way last season but from the games I had seen its amazing I would say they were helped with at least 12 points and a FA cup final by referee’s.

    eg. owens goal against man city last year in the 800 minute

    the penalty against vidic in the fa cup final (how does the referee give a penalty but no red card when he is clearly the last man by a good few yards and he pulls him back and fouls him) if its a penalty it has to be a red card if no card no penalty but it was a clear foul so it has to be a penalty that was in the first 3 min and they would have had 10 men for 87 min.

    the penalty given against liverpool which set man u up for the win.

    I can even go back over the years and recall many incidents where there has been bias towards them in the epl.

    I can mention many more but the point I’m trying to make here is that the rules should be the same for all teams and if things even out as people always suggest then I’m sorry the epl and it’s shitty refs owe us and the other 18 teams at least 12 points for last season as well as a FA cup each.

  13. This is from the 2010/11 Interpretation of law 12 (fouls & misconduct).

    Impeding the progress of an opponent means moving into the path of the
    opponent to obstruct, block, slow down or force a change of direction by an
    opponent when the ball is not within playing distance of either player.
    All players have a right to their position on the field of play, being in the way of
    an opponent is not the same as moving into the way of an opponent.
    Shielding the ball is permitted. A player who places himself between an
    opponent and the ball for tactical reasons has not committed an offence as
    long as the ball is kept within playing distance and the player does not hold off
    the opponent with his arms or body. If the ball is within playing distance, the
    player may be fairly charged by an opponent.

  14. I tend to agree with joshuad. The cases we see in the EPL are not clear cut.

    I don’t think just by standing there Song is committing a foul. If he moves into the path of the keeper, as mentioned by adam, or moves his arms, as he does in the image above, then he commits a foul. In that sense it was a naive move by Song.

    In our Epl games I think the problem comes when a defender gets in between. I used to think why get the defenders involved we could just make the Keeper go around the standing player and if the standing player moves it’d be a foul. But if this happens the opposition can just plant three players in a stationary manner around the Keeper and make it very difficult for him to move. From what I understand, that would not be a foul.

    It seems to me the laws are not comprehensive enough and that leads to a lot of confusion and grappling in the box.

  15. To me, the goal keeper brought the foul against Song. While looking at the ‘Song impeding’ video. It’s the goalkeeper changing his position, jumping onto Songs’ back, placing his arms around him and then Song raises his arms to shake the goalie of himself. Isn’t the goalkeeper technically
    trying to con the Ref, in order to gain advantage(not having to defend against a corner).

  16. Walter, as someone mentioned above, is the usage of towels as done by Stoke legal? I thought ‘foreign’ objects weren’t allowed to be used for influencing play?

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