Last updated on February 22nd, 2023
You may have seen Bernd Leno being sent off for a handball offence during this match between Wolves and Arsenal.
Can a goalkeeper commit a handball offence if he is outside of the box? Here’s what you need to know.
Can a goalkeeper commit a handball offence?
A goalkeeper commits a handball offence if he handles the ball outside of the penalty area. The goalkeeper is only allowed to handle the ball within his own penalty area. As such, he cannot use his hands once he is outside of his penalty box.
According the Laws of the Game, the goalkeeper cannot handle the ball if he is outside of his penalty area. Even if he is in the opposing penalty area, he is unable to handle the ball!
This means that a goalkeeper cannot score a goal by punching the ball into the opponent’s net.
What happens if a goalkeeper handles outside the box?
When the goalkeeper handles the football outside of his box, a free kick will be awarded to the opposing team. The goalkeeper may receive a yellow card or a red card for the offence, depending on whether the handball was a deliberate attempt to stop an obvious goal-scoring opportunity.
No matter what, the opposing team will be awarded a free kick that is outside the box. However, the referee has the discretion to decide if the offence is serious enough to warrant the goalkeeper to be sent off.
Can a goalkeeper be sent off for a handball?
A goalkeeper can be sent off for a handball offence if he was deemed to deny a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity through the handball. If he is deemed to stop a promising attack, he will only be issued a yellow card.
If he is seen to deny a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity (DOGSO), he will be sent off. However, the goalkeeper may only stop a promising attack (SPA).
Since the goalkeeper is outside of this penalty area, he will be considered as an outfield player. In this scenario, he will only be awarded with a yellow card.
There is a fine line between stopping a promising attack (SPA) and denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity (DOGSO). The Laws of the Game has some criteria when differentiating between the 2:
- distance between the offence and the goal
- general direction of the play
- likelihood of keeping or gaining control of the ball
- location and number of defenders
The goalkeeper will only be sent off if his offence is deemed to be severe enough.
One such example is Konyaspor goalkeeper Serkan Kirintili who was sent off after just 13 seconds with this mistake.
There was a player from the opponent’s team who was attempting to go for the ball at the same time. As such, it would have been considered as an obvious goal-scoring opportunity (DOGSO).
Since the goalkeeper deliberately denied this goal-scoring opportunity, he was sent off for this offence.
This also happened in a Premier League match between Liverpool and Newcastle, where Nick Pope was sent off for this foul:
In this scenario, the Newcastle goalkeeper was deemed to have denied an obvious goal-scoring opportunity, since Salah was farther ahead of any defender, and could have a clean shot on goal.
As a result, Pope was sent off as well
What happens if a goalkeeper catches the ball outside the box, but his body is still in the penalty area?
As a general rule, the handball offence depends on the position of the ball, and not the goalkeeper. Even if the goalkeeper’s body is in the penalty area, it will still be counted as a handball offence if he catches the ball outside the box.
So long as the goalkeeper touches the ball outside of his penalty area, it will be considered to be a handball offence. It does not matter where the rest of his body is positioned.
Here is an example of this scenario.
Can the goalkeeper come out the box?
A goalkeeper is allowed to come out of his box to receive, defend or pass the ball. However, he cannot touch the ball with his hands when he is outside of his penalty area, as he will be committing a handball offence.
There are no restrictions on the goalkeeper, where he cannot come out of his penalty area. He is able to do so if he wants to receive the ball.
Manuel Neuer is rather famous for coming off the line to defend attacking balls. This is because he usually has the role of a sweeper keeper.
Once the goalkeeper comes out of the penalty area, he will be treated just like any other outfield player. This means that he is unable to use his hands to touch the ball, as it will be considered to be a handball offence.
The goalkeeper is also unable to touch the ball even if it is in the penalty arc! This is because the penalty arc is not a part of the penalty area, and it is only relevant in the case of a penalty.
A goalkeeper commits a handball offence if he handles the ball outside of his penalty area. However, he will only be sent off for a handball offence if he denied an obvious goal-scoring opportunity (DOGSO).
If his offence was deemed to have stopped a promising attack (SPA), he would only receive a yellow card.
A goalkeeper is allowed to come off his line and play the ball outside of his box. However, he is unable to use his hands once he is out of the penalty area!
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