One rule states that the goalkeeper is given special protection in the five-metre area, so that if he is even touched, tackled, jumped on, pushed away or whatever – i.e. a number of attacks that would not otherwise be punished outside this area – he is awarded a free kick.
Of course, such a rule was drafted at a time when nothing was registered far and wide about goal poverty. The goalkeeper has a special position that basically allows him to play the ball with any part of his body. He has a huge box to defend, so please, give him a certain distance from this box in which he is not exposed to normal body attacks like any field player. Purely visually, he already has this special position, in that he is allowed to play with his hand, so let him have a few more special rights in his territory as well. Please, gladly.
Although already this would have to be reconsidered, as long as one is committed to the intention of providing for more goal actions and more goals, there are nevertheless a few critical remarks to be made about its current application even if the rule is preserved. Well translated: The rule could also provide for more goals if applied correctly. The fact is that it is applied far too often these days. So the statement stands: the goalkeeper receives far too much protection.
It is the case with almost every rule that it creeps in in some form or other, so that both players and referees have a certain, and after a while as uniform as possible, way of dealing with it. The media, with their way of responding to dubious decisions, then naturally have just as much influence and thus a say. As long as there is no fuss about certain decisions, the referees feel comfortable with their form of interpretation. If something is repeatedly picked up and shown to be flawed, attention is raised by all concerned.
Here, that’s how it developed: Goalkeepers eventually felt they could use the interpretation in their favour. Sure, it used to be that every now and then a goalkeeper would panic in the five-yard box because so many attackers – defenders, too, of course – would appear around him. He would try to follow the rules and just try to get the ball in the normal way, but if he was prevented from doing so by an attacker, it was up to the referee to call it a violation of the rules and blow the whistle. Gradually, however, it developed that the goalkeepers felt out the boundaries as to which striker’s behaviour would be considered against the rules.
This probing now refers to the fact that one’s own behaviour is becoming more and more audacious, for example, daring to take dives that would never have occurred to one in the past. You realise that if a striker gets in your way and you don’t reach the ball, the striker is always blamed. There was contact between the striker and the goalkeeper, the action was in the five-metre area, so there is a free kick for the goalkeeper. How or what caused the contact is almost irrelevant.
In the meantime, it is not only the case that the goalkeeper “clears” at will anyone who appears in his protected zone, but also that he falls down theatrically immediately after the contact he himself caused, and in the next move charges at the stricken attacker, chalks him up for his rude behaviour and demands a yellow card from the referee for this alleged foul – usually with success. In addition, however, this behaviour has long since found its way far outside the five-metre area. Occasionally, the reporter will say “oh, the action was outside the five-metre area, he wouldn’t have had any protection there, he is considered a normal field player there”. But that is the end of the story. It did not cause any further stir, apart from the fact that it was recognised.
By the way, the defenders have long since realised that the attacker is always the culprit. So as soon as the goalkeeper drops a ball somewhere in the penalty area, the decision to call a striker’s foul is virtually guaranteed. The designated villain is assailed from all sides, confronted in himself with the question: “Why do you even show up here? Here is a defensive zone, here is a goalkeeper’s area, i.e. enemy territory, you have no business here. And don’t you dare, not even in your dreams, try to score a goal!”
The referees play this lazy game. But it also suits their tendency to always want to find some reason to stop the game and not score a goal. They just blow the whistle and everything is fine. Especially when it smells like a goal. That’s the case here, too. When the ball is free, somewhere, the goalkeeper doesn’t reach it or drops it, the desired spectacle is actually in the offing for everyone – except, again and again, that is, the few players and fans of the team concerned — a goal action. However, there the spectator gets frustrated almost as often: “Oh, now it’s getting exciting.” “Nah, sit down again, the whistle blew long ago.”
If you look at it very closely, the five-metre area is actually no longer really accessible to strikers. Because: scoring a goal is impossible, you only expose yourself to the risk of injury and/or a yellow card.
There was a scene in a Bundesliga match a few years ago in which a (Cottbus?) goalkeeper far outside the five-metre area dropped the ball under pressure from only two of his own team-mates (!). The (Nuremberg?) attacker who benefited from this pushed the free ball into the empty goal. The decision was: striker’s foul. The media certainly recognised that this was a blatantly wrong decision. Nevertheless, it was made and could provide further evidence for the correctness of some statements: Sometimes it doesn’t really matter why the referee blows the whistle. The main thing is that no goal is scored. Goalkeeper protection is one of these widely overused measures to stop play – and thus prevent goals.
The rule may make sense. But it should be applied as it is written down. The goalkeeper cannot claim a free kick for every dropped ball. Rarely was he really obstructed, often it is his own defenders who get in his way. Goals are and remain the salt in the soup. If this rule were also applied correctly, there would be a few more.