FIFA Puts An End To The Scourge Of Amazing, Impossible Goalkeeper Goals

Goalkeepers occasionally score goals. Some turn it into an art form; Brazil’s Rogério Ceni scored 131 times. Still, a game where a goalkeeper scores is rare. Even rarer still: a goalkeeper throwing the ball into the other team’s net for a goal.

Don’t laugh. It was legal until last month. Nothing but the length of the pitch and 11 opposing players prohibited a goalkeeper from throwing it into the net of the other team for a goal. No more, however.

Under the revised rule book that went into effect June 1, a goalkeeper can’t score by throwing the ball into another team’s goal. If that somehow happens, it would be a goal kick. The International Football Association Board, which writes soccer’s Laws of the Game, tweeted about the rule yesterday.

It raises questions: Why this rule change now? What are the chances a goalie could actually do this? I found a 2008 video of this “longest soccer ball throw” of 82 yards. If this were legal before, why didn’t any soccer team sign that guy up?

Deadspin reached out to the IFAB. A spokesperson explained there was no incident that precipitated it the change:

This is a rule change that needed to be made to make the Laws consistent and close a gap in the “logic.” That’s all. It was part of the overall revision process/“cleaning up” of the Laws. Having said that, we had several questions from Referees how to deal with this. In particular, on small (kids) pitches, this could be possible.

There’s more information in an IFAB booklet about the rule changes, which says the rule change was made “to be consistent with re-wording of handball in Law 12.” That change to the rules comes with more explanation from the IFAB in a different booklet (this one with video!) about the rule changes: “The concept of ‘natural’ position of the arm (which is very difficult to interpret) had been replaced by a more factual judgment — has the position of the hand/arm ‘made the body unnaturally bigger’ i.e. has the hand/arm had the effect of creating a bigger ‘barrier’ for the ball/opponent (outside the normal ‘playing silhouette’)?”

The key rule change the IFAB made regarding how handballs are called is this: A goal will not count if the team that scored gained possession of the ball with an inadvertent handball. Since field players can’t score with their hands, the IFAB changed the rules to make it clear that goalies can’t do it either. Seems a little rude to the goalkeeper, but perhaps the IFAB knows what it’s doing.

The IFAB is made up of FIFA and the governing bodies of football in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. (Each association gets one vote; FIFA gets four.) Somewhere, an overworked youth ref complained about not knowing what to do when some kid managed to throw the ball into the other team’s goal. And the IFAB actually changed the rules! Now those youth refs get to tell that stupid kid the amazing thing that just happened didn’t count as a goal. Sometimes things do work out for the little guy.

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