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Denying Obvious Goal Scoring Opportunity

Updated: Apr 26, 2022


The challenge for the referees is not only to keep up with the game but also with the Laws of the Game. For the 2016/17 season sees the introduction of vast number of changes. One of the major updates relate to DOGSO (Denying an Obvious Goal Scoring Opportunity).


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Len Randall discusses how this is likely to impact the referees and the means by which referees will be better equipped to meet the challenge.

There is merit in the revised direction on disciplining DOGSO offences that seeks to differentiate between offences in the penalty area that are genuine attempts to play the ball [yellow card] and those unfair practices that aren’t [still a red card].


This revision places a new and significant burden on referees in having to instantly decide on the offender’s motives. Was it a genuine attempt to play the ball that resulted in a careless or reckless tackle? How are referees going to decide?

  • The most obvious factor will be gauging how close the offender actually got to the ball in the challenge. Was the ball ever within his playing distance?

  • Was the offender’s motivation simply to fell an opponent? This can only be supposition but the clue as to proximity to the ball and whether there was ever any realistic chance of playing the ball will be the deciding factor.

When clubs get acclimatised to the new law and, no doubt, guided by TV pundits who haven’t a clue, my guess is that players will come to expect never more than a yellow card in the penalty area for any DOGSO offence looking like some form of tackle.

Blatant tripping from behind can never be deemed to offer any possibility of playing the ball. Goalkeepers diving at an opponent’s feet, the opponent having long since played the ball past the onrushing goalkeeper, cannot be a genuine attempt to play the ball.

Literal and correct application of the law demands that referees will be judicious and brave. Have the courage to send off players who are not making a genuine attempt to play the ball.

Before the law was changed many years ago, ‘obstruction’ was only penalised with an indirect free kick as opposed to holding and pushing that have always been penal offences. Referees regularly avoided the hassle of awarding penalty kicks by determining that the holding offence in the penalty area was only ‘obstruction’. This was a cop-out employed by most – if not all – referees. Don’t let us fall into the same trap again. If there is no chance to or attempt to play the ball in the penalty area [and all other DOGSO conditions are met] be brave and send off offenders who, at best, only make pretence of challenging for the ball.

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Abi Oyeleke
Abi Oyeleke
17 ago 2022

Very well said. Referees are now expexted to be judicious and brave.

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