Here's my ruling on the soccer play described in the post below. Thanks to all for your opinions. This business of refereeing a football game is very challenging. Things happen quickly and unpredictably. I often find it useful to replay the tough calls and share them with others, as here, as part of learning to be better at this. After 17 years or so of being a licensed referee, it still bothers me when a child is hurt, even if I think my call was correct.
Going back to the match, I allowed the goal, as a clean charge with the goalie not in possession. The red coach differed, saying I had an obligation to protect the goalie. The white coach saw it the way I did. No surprises on either side there!
Here's what my referee colleagues said when I presented the case to them:
John: Agree with your call. No real obligation to protect the keeper in the Laws of the Game. Sounds like a 50-50 ball misjudged by the keeper.
Jeff: It might depend, for me, on the extent of the 'collision, goalie knocked down'. Part of playing fairly in going up to head a ball is to be able to come down and not knock over an opponent - a player is responsible for his momentum - body, cleats, whatever. When that opponent is the keeper, refs might apply even stricter judgement to what is a fair jump. That said, at U12 D1 a level of physical play is of course expected and needs to be accepted. So I guess for me it would depend on the extent of the contact against the keeper after the header (which I of course can't judge).
Bill: Agree with John, assuming that white player was jumping more or less straight up. D-1 (division 1) almost requires you to allow it.
Tom: Seems like another classic case of “you had to be there to see it.” You were the one there, so I would tend to go with your call. Some things I might’ve considered: I think we do have to consider that the keeper can be more vulnerable than the average player. However, sometimes keepers endanger themselves as “part of the job.” What was the angle and speed of the white player when he went up to head the ball? Did he launch himself at it and perhaps into the keeper? Or did he go up fairly vertically, in which case perhaps the keeper’s momentum carried him underneath the descending white attacker? Sometimes, attacking players might say after a foul “but, ref, I got the ball.” In which case the answer is that “yes, but you had to go through the other guy and foul him to get to it.”
From your description, the keeper does not have possession, therefore I would be influenced by the speed, trajectory, and control of the white attacker’s leap to head the ball and win a 50-50 situation.
BTW, players are sometimes “hurt” in games when their pride takes a hit. Maybe that was part of the play in your game?
My reply: Thanks, Tom. Yes, I was close and had a good angle, and I saw it as a fairly vertical jump, with the keeper going forward under him. In fact, I remember, in that split second, being impressed with the fact that it was a remarkably clean approach to the header. (There was a big height differential between the two players.)