Hanging Judge: Irish ref is a head above the rest

The recent savage attack on Irish soccer referee Daniel Sweeney was a reminder – as if we needed one – of the perils of trying to mediate between two soccer teams.

This seems to be the case only in soccer and not other sporting codes. As mentioned last week, Sweeney was brutally attacked at an amateur game in Ireland recently. The attack left him with a broken nose, severe bruising on his face and a damaged eye socket.

Sweeney has since come out publicly in the media to say he has forgiven his attackers and I commend him for this gesture.

Police are still gathering evidence against the assailants and charges are likely to follow in the next few days or weeks.

The referee, by his own admission a man of faith, is a rare breed in that he can forgive his attackers for assaulting him and says he bears no animosity towards them.

I’m not sure I could, or would, be so forgiving. I hope that evidence is found to bring these thugs to book, as it emerged during this past week that one of the individuals involved is out on bail for another attack of a similar nature. I’ll leave it there for fear of prejudicing any future trial that may ensue.

The laws of the game are available to all.

I received an email during the week from a reader asking the following: “If a goalkeeper kicks the ball into his own net directly from a goal kick, should it be a retake or a corner kick to the opposing team?”

I quote my reply from the most recent Fifa publication of the laws of the game, which states: “A goal kick is awarded when the whole of the ball passes over the goal line, on the ground or in the air, having last touched a player of the attacking team, and a goal is not scored.

“A goal may be scored directly from a goal kick, but only against the opposing team. If the ball directly enters the kicker’s goal a corner kick is awarded to the opponents if the ball left the penalty area.”

I thought I had answered that question sufficiently, even with the quote from Fifa, but some discussion and confusion continued.

The reader went on to say that he had asked “two experienced referees and was told that if a keeper kicks the ball into his own goal from a goal kick then a corner should be awarded”.

Despite my explanation and caption from the law book, there still seemed to be confusion as to the correct interpretation on this issue.

I think the reader and his friends might be getting wrong the part that says: “If the ball directly enters the kickers goal,” which might suggest that the kicker is the goalkeeper.

What they failed to interpret was the last part of the sentence, which states, “if the ball left the penalty area”. In this instance, the ball did not leave the penalty area, therefore there is no goal. The ball is only in play once it has left the penalty area.

I welcome these kinds of questions as I firmly believe that many supporters don’t really know the finer points of the laws of the game. If I can be of any assistance in this regard I would be only too willing to help.

Perhaps some kind of Q&A situation might be a runner? Let me know what your thoughts are on this issue.

I know a lack of knowledge on the laws of the game can be the cause of friction and anger among soccer lovers around the country and, indeed, the world.

Happy whistling!

Follow me on Twitter @dr_errol

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June 2020

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