Goalkeeping rules (soccer)

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The rules for goalkeepers in football are part of the football rules and are not summarized there separately. The goalkeeping rules have been changed several times in recent years to speed up the game and make it more attractive.

The following rules apply especially to goalkeepers: The goalkeeper is the only player on a team who can throw the ball in his own penalty area - albeit with restrictions, see Sect. u. - is allowed to play with the hand. Attacking a goalkeeper is prohibited if he is controlling the ball with his hand , and touching the ball is considered to be control. Unsportsmanlike harassment of the goalkeeper, for example when taking a corner kick, is also prohibited. In addition, the provisions on dangerous play by a goalkeeper are interpreted differently: Usually, a player who is lying on the floor and blocks the ball or is very close to the game is decided to violate the rules against this player because of dangerous play. This is different with the goalkeeper, as it corresponds to his role in the game to lie on the floor when necessary.

The already mentioned prohibition of unsportsmanlike pressure on the goalkeeper, whereby the referees are instructed to prevent this in particular in their own goal area (colloquially 5-meter space), leads to the assumption that the goalkeeper has special rights in the goal area.


The set of rules is not consistent in the designation and speaks partly of the goalkeeper, partly of the goalkeeper; but the same players are meant. Some provisions for the protection of the goalkeeper can be found under the heading Offenses committed by the goalkeeper (IFAB instructions for rule 12)


  • One player in each team must be a goalkeeper, otherwise the game cannot take place.
  • In the event of an injury to the goalkeeper that requires treatment, he does not have to leave the field. The game is paused until he can be used again or a substitute has been substituted. All players who also need treatment while the goalkeeper is being treated, as they do not have to leave the field during this time, also benefit from this special feature.
  • The goalkeeper must be visually different from the field players of both teams. At the same time, he should be different from the referee and his assistant as well as the goalkeeper of the other team. The distinction mainly relates to the color of his jersey.
  • The goalkeeper must not be attacked, touched or disturbed by any opponent when teeing off.
  • If the ball comes to the goalkeeper in a way that would allow the goalkeeper to pick it up according to the rules, he can initially take the ball without the help of his hands and may continue to put the ball in the same game situation Take hand. This also applies if the ball was accepted with the hands but not controlled, for example by clapping.
  • The back pass rule states that the goalkeeper is not permitted to pick up or touch the ball with his hands if it is a controlled pass with his foot or a throw-in by a teammate from his own team. Passing the head or other parts of the body, however, is permitted, provided this is not done with the intention of circumventing the rule (e.g. player 1 lifts the ball at head height to player 2, who then heads the ball to the goalkeeper).
  • The goalkeeper may control the ball with his hand for a maximum of six seconds, after which he must release the ball, otherwise an indirect free kick must be awarded to his team.
  • A goalkeeper who controls the ball with his hand in accordance with the rules may no longer be attacked. In this case, simply touching the ball with just one finger counts as controlling the ball.
  • The usual bouncing of a ball in the sequence hand-floor-hand does not count as a release of the ball. Therefore, the time of maximum ball control continues here, but at the same time this does not count as a new ball pick-up ("back pass rule"), and an attack on the goalkeeper is still only permitted in the form of the correct bump.
  • Since the 2020/2021 season, a personal penalty must also be imposed on the goalkeeper if he touches the ball in his own penalty area as a double touch with his hand during the continuation of the game, after which a double touch of the ball by the executing player is prohibited, as far as a more promising one Attack (warning) or a clear scoring chance (expulsion from the field) was prevented; however, the continuation of play remains the indirect free kick.

Penalty kick

Goalkeeper Bianca Henninger moved as the first well in this second penalty attempt Esther Sundays in the penalty shootout of the U-20 World Cup match USA - Nigeria , according to assessment of the referee foul before the goal line, so Sunday after two missed chances transform the third penalty could.

In the meantime, the goalkeeper is allowed to move on the goal line, but he may not leave this line until the shooter has touched the ball. The rule that he was not allowed to move used to lead to discussions as soon as the ball was held or shot. If the goalkeeper had actually moved too early, the penalty kick had to be repeated, so that the executing team, which had not scored a goal, almost regularly complained that the goalkeeper moved too early, which the defending team also vehemently denied. Since the rule changes in summer 2019, only one foot of the goalkeeper has to be on or above the goal line.

Indirect free kick

A goalkeeper gives an indirect free kick to the opposing team if he or she commits any of the following violations within his / her penalty area :

  • He waits, while controlling the ball with his hands, more than six seconds before releasing it for play.
    Since the introduction of this rule in 1997, the goalkeeper's behavior is no longer limited by the number of steps when controlling the ball with his hands or arms, as was the case in the four-step rule of 1982/1985. Since then, he has been allowed to hold the ball in his hands for a maximum of six seconds, but can take as many steps as he likes within those six seconds.
  • He touches the ball with his hand that a teammate has deliberately passed with his foot. This also applies to throw-ins from fellow players.
  • If the goalkeeper has already controlled the ball with his hands and releases the ball by dribbling it with his foot, for example, he may no longer pick up the ball. The mere bouncing of a ball does not count as clearance.

Referee ball

With the new regulation of the referee ball in summer 2019, it was introduced that if a referee ball is placed in his own penalty area, only the goalkeeper is allowed to take part in the referee's ball, while all other players must maintain a distance of at least four meters. What remained unchanged was that the goalkeeper may pick up the ball after a ball from a referee.

Goalkeeper change

Each field player may swap places with the goalkeeper; The new goalkeeper must be recognizable as such by his clothing, while the previous goalkeeper must be clearly recognizable as a player in terms of clothing (jersey change). If the substitution quota of a team is exhausted and the goalkeeper has to be eliminated due to an injury or expulsion (" red card "), a field player must take over his function so that the game can continue. The goalkeeping rules apply to this from now on. The referee must be informed of an intended goalkeeper change before it is carried out, regardless of whether it is connected with a substitution or only two players change roles. Since the beginning of the 2017/2018 season, the referee no longer has to be informed if the goalkeeper change takes place during the half-time break , between the end of regular time and the start of extra time or after the end of extra time and before the start of the penalty shoot-out; However, if this goes hand in hand with the replacement of the previous goalkeeper, the change process must be reported to the referee and requires his consent.

Indoor soccer

Football games in the hall are usually played according to the football rules and the special hall rules of the member associations. However, there may be deviations in indoor tournaments (in rather small halls), which must be specified in the tournament regulations beforehand.

Possible deviations are, for example:

  • Throws or kicks by the goalkeeper may not take place over the center line without touching the ground or the player. Often the release is replaced by curling.
  • The goalkeeper may only leave his goal as far as the center line or the goal area only to ward off an attack.
  • In a goal kick - even if this is replaced by a goalkeeper throw - the ball may only cross the center line if it has been touched by any other player.
  • In futsal , a stricter back pass rule applies: If the ball comes from your own goalkeeper, he may only play the ball again with his foot if the ball has been touched by the opponent in the meantime. The goalkeeper can and will be replaced by another field player, similar to handball.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ History of the regulations 1980–1990

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