Futsal Goalkeeper Rules

To start off, here’s a great video explaining visually what a Futsal goalkeeper can and can’t do.

Now we move onto my content! I will cover two of the most important rules concerning goalkeepers in Futsal. It is explained in the Laws but for a crash course.

4 Seconds

The goalkeeper can keep possession of the ball for a total of four seconds:

  • including their hands and feet,
  • in their own half.

“and” in the first point refers to the fact that if the goalkeeper has possession of the ball in their hands and drops it to their feet, the count continues and does not reset.

Here’s a video of the count on the goalkeeper’s possession of the ball which is legal. Notice we don’t start counting immediately after the goalkeeper is in possession of the ball. We do so when “he is ready to do so”.

Here’s a video demonstrating the start of an early count for an unnecessary delay in the goalkeeper’s possession as he lies on the ground after receiving it. The extra time taken by the goalkeeper extends beyond the recoil time needed for the save and so, the goalkeeper could have in fact released the ball sooner without difficulty.

The count continues when the goalkeeper has the ball in their hands and then releases it to their feet. The following video demonstrates this.

The count is stopped when the goalkeeper crosses the halfway line. The count resets if the goalkeeper returns to his own half after entering the opposing half while in possession of the ball.

Plot twist: The goalkeeper passes the ball to a teammate in the opposing half after crossing over the halfway line. A return pass is then made to the goalkeeper still in the attacking half. The goalkeeper returns to the defending half. Second touch offence.

See next section for what we mean by second touch (multiple touches).

What do the Laws say exactly about 4 seconds?

An indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a goalkeeper commits any of the following four offences:

  • Controls the ball with his hands or feet in his own half of the pitch for more than four seconds

FLOTG 2014-2015, Page 40

Multiple Touches

One of the most complicated rules in Futsal is that the goalkeeper cannot touch the ball with their hands or feet for a second time (basically having already touched it) in their own half. The first touch can happen anywhere and includes taking restarts.

The second touch is permitted if and only if one of the following has happened:

  • an opponent touches the ball,
  • or the ball has gone out of play.

Note the use of the word second and multiple touches is a colloquial reference an not an official Laws of the Game term. A second touch doesn’t mean a second dribble (i.e. poking the ball with the foot twice in succession) but rather the second time the goalkeeper has possession of the ball (someone else gets possession.

In the following video the goalkeeper plays a game of tika-taka with a defender and is penalised by a second touch offence.

In another scenario, we see that the goalkeeper wisely does not touch the ball in this encounter to avoid suffering a second touch offence. Shielding the ball would invoke the 4-second rule in the previous section. We assert that shielding is considered control of the ball.

A very important note is that if the goalkeeper plays the ball from a restart e.g. takes a goal clearance, kick-in or free kick, it constitutes a first touch. As a result, a return pass in his own half would be a second touch offence.

Allowing the ball to cross the halfway line no longer has any effect on allowing the goalkeeper to touch the ball again. That rule was altered in 2010. We refer to earlier in this post to at least one of the original two conditions that need to be met for the goalkeeper to be able to touch it again.

An important thing to note is that a lot of concentration is required here. A team could potentially play a very drawn out game of passing having already included the goalkeeper in it and then include the goalkeeper again. No time span waives a second touch so what may feel like ages of a team passing the ball all across the court avoiding the ball going out of play and an opponent touching it could be a violation if the goalkeeper touches it for a second time in between then.

These two major points are covered by the following video.

On the other hand, an opponent touch or ball out of play allows the goalkeeper to legally touch the ball again.

Opponent touch

Ball out of Play

What do the Laws say exactly about multiple touches?

An indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a goalkeeper commits any of the following four offences:

  • After playing the ball, he touches it again in his own half of the pitch after it has been deliberately played to him by a team-mate without an opponent playing or touching it

FLOTG 2014-2015, Page 40

52 comments on “Futsal Goalkeeper Rules

  1. Youth Soccer Referee says:

    Slight correction: opponent does not have to *play* the ball in order for the goalkeeper not to be called for a 2nd touch. Opponent only has to *touch* the ball (or ball touches opponent)

  2. Alex says:

    Something we use with our refs here for the “second touch” thing is that you have the ref put their thumb out (like a “thumbs up”) when the GK touches the ball a first time, and once the ‘sequence’ ends, the thumb goes down again. That way you know that if the GK plays the ball and the thumb’s out… bad. 🙂

    • larbitre says:

      That’s a great idea! Definitely good to use for new refs until they master the concentration level necessary.

  3. Frank says:

    In the video “Futsal GK Combined Hands & Feet Possession,” the GK collects the ball with his hands and drops it to his feet. Why isn’t playing with his feet now considered a “second touch”? Would the opposite order — if he collected the ball with his feet (after receiving it from an opponent) and then picked it up (in his own penalty area) — be a “second touch”?

    • Same possession. “Second touch” should really be “second possession”.

      As noted in both the Laws and above, a GK can have possession in his/her own half for 4s. If there’s a second possession (based on the “Multiple touches” section above), then that’s where the problem lies.

      A bit of language issues mostly it appears.

  4. toledonum1@sbcglobal.net says:

    I have been reading some conflicting reports on the goalkeeper is allowed to throw the ball directly into the opposing teams goal. Is this correct in Futsal?

    • larbitre says:

      Never. A goalkeeper cannot score a goal when playing the ball directly from his hands whether from a goal clearance or after a save. After a save, he may, however, drop kick it and score.
      FLOTG, Page 37, 2nd paragraph

      • coach 11 says:

        does the ball have to leave the penalty area before a teammate can play it after a keeper makes a save?

        • larbitre says:

          Nope. After a save, the ball is still in play so anyone may play it after it is released by the goalkeeper.

      • eddyzulham says:

        The goalkeeper is allowed to throw the ball directly into the opposing team goals and if the ball is being touched by the opposing goalkeeper or being touched by a player into the net, then it is a GOAL. Correct?

      • Brian says:

        I’m not sure I’m with you on the drop-kicking and scoring. It states “A goal is disallowed if the goalkeeper of the attacking team throws or hits the ball intentionally with his hand or arm from inside his own penalty area and is the last player to touch or play the ball”, but doesn’t say anything about that touch having to be the last touch he has before scoring. My reading of the rule would be that as soon as he deliberately uses his hands he has rendered the rest of his possession indirect. (taking it to ludicrous extremes, once he’s played it once he can’t score for the rest of the game as there appears to be no ‘reset’ condition in the rules, but rendering his own possession indirect is a reasonable outcome at least)

        Has there been any formal clarification on this? As a keeper, I’d rather like the ability to score, but the rule doesn’t seem to allow it.

        • The interpretation here has been specifically that a goal cannot be scored when last touched by “deliberate handling” by the attacking team (whether GK in his/her own penalty area, or attacking player). This is a bit of common sense.

          For example, a GK could make a save by catching the ball, immediately put the ball down, dribble up field, cross the halfway line and take a shot and score… that goal would definitely count. Dropping the ball and then kicking it down field into the net (directly)? A goal.

          Don’t try to read stuff into the Laws that isn’t there.

          • Brian says:

            For context. the real reason I ask is that I’ve been on the receiving end of both interpretations (the bad side on both cases, actually), so I wanted to determine the actual rule. I’d agree that the interpretation you have would make sense from an observer’s point of view, but I’m not sure it’s what the rule really says. In the example you state he has exactly fit the wording of the rule – hit or thrown it with his hand or arm and was the last player to touch or play the ball (with some stuff between which is not directly referenced by the laws).

            I’d actually like that example to be a goal, but it’s hard to bring anything up to a ref based on just common sense – hence hoping for a clarification somewhere.

          • Brian says:

            Hmm… looking back to the 2008 rules is worse, in a way. It states “A goal is scored when the whole of the ball passes over the goal line between the goalposts and under the crossbar, unless a member of the attacking team, including the goalkeeper, has deliberately carried, thrown or struck the ball with his hands or arms, and provided that the scoring team has not previously infringed the Futsal Laws of the Game.”

            It seems odd to include that as an additional requirement, given any such handling by a non-goalkeeper is inherently an infringement regardless of location, but at least in this version the only reading that ever lets any scoring occur is the one that makes sense (and that you proposed), so you need to go with it.

            I think at this point I will simply curse the referee who disallowed my goal a year ago and grudgingly accept the one I let in tonight, and agree that the letter of the law should not be followed above the spirit. Thanks for the reply Alex, and hopefully I didn’t seem too blunt.

          • Ijal says:

            is it correct, the goalkeeper can play freely just as ordinary player when the ball plays on the opponent’s half?

  5. nigel says:

    When is the goalkeeper considered to be in control/possession of the ball triggering the four second count. Assuming an opponent puts a weak shot on goal and it hits the post. The goalkeeper moves with the intention to play the ball but deliberately delays waiting for an opponent to force him to touch it. When does the four second count begin ?

    • larbitre says:

      As soon as the goalkeeper is standing over the ball (even without touching it), the count starts. The implication is that he is controlling the ball.

      Delaying picking up the ball is more common in football. It’s a destructive, counter-intuitive tactic in futsal since the count will run out quicker than they can release it.

  6. Mark says:

    At the end of extra time & just before starting penalty kicks a team wants to change goalkeepers using one of the players that finished the game this is ok to do
    Cheers

    • Futsal is a bit different from football (aka soccer) in that “All players and substitutes are authorised to take the penalty kicks” (pg 62, 14-15 Laws) and “A goalkeeper may be replaced by any player while kicks are being taken from the penalty mark.” (pg 62, 14-15 Laws).

      The final interesting bit relates to “reduce to equate” *(also pg 62, 14-15 Laws):
      * If, at the end of the match or extra time and before the kicks start to be taken from the penalty mark, one team has a greater number of players, including substitutes, than its opponents, it must reduce its numbers to equate with that of its opponents and the team captain must inform the referee of the name and number of each player excluded
      * If a team must reduce its numbers to equate with that of its opponents, it may exclude the goalkeepers as players eligible to take the penalty kicks
      * A goalkeeper excluded from taking penalty kicks in order to equate the number of players of his team with that of its opponents, i.e. who is located in his technical area, may replace his team’s goalkeeper at any time

      This is different from football, where the person acting as GK must be considered one of the players eligible to take the penalty kicks.

  7. caulfield2 says:

    Hi there,

    I have 3 questions considering the rules on the goalkeeper:

    What if the goalkeeper’s 2nd touch (or even a four second violation e.g. shielding the ball..?) denies an obvious goalscoring opportunity of the opponent’s side? Is this also punishable with a sending off (+ IDFK)?
    Previously it was said “if the goalkeeper plays the ball from a restart e.g. takes a goal clearance, kick-in or free kick in his own half, it constitutes a first touch. As a result, a return pass would be a second touch offence.” Does that mean that the first touch of a kick-in or free kick must occur in the goalkeeper’s own half? So if it happens in the opponent’s half then the keeper has an “extra touch”?
    Just for clarification: if the goalkeeper is shielding the ball (without touching it) he/she basically has possession of the ball and the count starts if he/she is in his/her own half?

    Many thanks and greetings from Hungary!

    Laszlo

  8. In reverse order:
    * Shielding is possession.
    * In short, if the goalkeeper is in the other half, s/he’s just a player. The key here is simply “second touch in his/her own half.” It only applies to two possessions in his/her own half. Possessions in the opponents’ half? Meh. Play on!
    * In theory, I don’t see why not. At a recent refresher course I took, it was presented that a player impeding could easily be considered DOGSO under the right circumstances. At the moment, I can’t easily think of a situation whereby this would apply, but it’s one I’d have to ask about…

    • caulfield2 says:

      Thank you Alex for your quick reply and clear explanation!

      If you hear something regarding the DOGSO situation please let me (us) know here. 😉

      Best wishes from Hungary!

      Laszlo

      • larbitre says:

        We heard from a USSF Futsal referee instructor that it wouldn’t be DOGSO since the Laws specify the exact restart for it.
        Unfortunately, I’m not in agreement because it’s not specific enough to DOGSO to be considered a comprehensive answer. Will let you know what we hear as discussions continue.

        EDIT: Although we can’t find a Law reference at this time in contradiction, in the spirit of the game and Laws, I wouldn’t recommend it.

  9. Vlada says:

    My friends and I got into an argument yesterday so i need an answer for the following situation:
    If the opposing player clears the ball from his half and the goalkeeper’s first touch is outside the box by foot, can he take the ball into the box and pick it up by hand? (it all takes less than 4 seconds)
    Thank you and pardon my english.

    • larbitre says:

      Yes Vlada. My resident advisor tells me that the goalkeeper at that point can pick up the ball, put it down, pick it up again as many times as he wants as long as he releases possession within 4 seconds. Futsal isn’t like football in that the goalkeeper can release the ball and deliberately handle it again immediately.

  10. dilip meher says:

    If a player shoot free kick and goalkeeper catch it and fell ball from his hand can a player running and hit again…plz rpll

  11. Hi, thank you for the post. I had couple issues with the ref in last tournament. came here to clarify that i was right. 🙂
    P.s. – if I touch the ball (goalie), pass it to a teammate, then substitute goalie comes in play (i’m on the bench now) – can second pass be given or that counts as “the same” goalie? and the same with 4 second rule – if I have the ball for 2 seconds, change for another goalie (while in posession of the ball) – does the count restart or continue?

    • There’s two easy questions to ask here:

      Is it the same player? No.
      Are they giving up possession to sub? Yes.

      So… no second touch. Restart count.

      With that in mind, if the substitute GK was on the field of play as a player and had touched the ball in the sequence, and came into the field of play as substitute GK (obviously in his own half at this point in time) and touched the ball before any players on the opposing team had touched it… then there would be a second touch, even though the first was NOT as a GK.

      • Ed says:

        Alex, the substitute goalkeeper is considered the same as the original goalkeeper and cannot touch the ball again in his own until it has gone out of play or an opponent has touched it. The count is not restarted.

        • larbitre says:

          I’m inclined to agree with you Ed. I don’t see why the count restarting would be an issue if it’s a “second” touch. If it’s the first touch, never was an issue.

  12. Ed says:

    Also, there is no such thing as a second touch. it is an incorrect term to describe the action of the goalkeeper playing the ball again in his own half after releasing it into play. If the goalkeeper dribbles the ball into the opposing half of the court and then comes back into his half of the court it is not allowed at all and is playing the ball again after releasing the ball into play. If that was allowed the goalkeeper could hold the ball for the entire match and kill time which is not what FIFA wants. Also, even if the goalkeeper takes a kick in from the opposing half of the court he will not be allowed to touch the ball again in his own half until it has been touched by an opponent or has gone out of play. One more, the ball cannot be thrown directly into the opponents goal by the goalkeeper. That was changed years ago.

    • larbitre says:

      Agreed that it’s colloquial wording and not an LOTG term. I don’t believe there is an official wording/terminology that is succinct enough that can be referred to in conversations?

      Do we have a Laws of the game reference to support the returning into the own half scenario? There was a lengthy discussion about this a few years ago that didn’t yield a Law reference and I don’t see what the issue would be for a goalkeeper to be running across the halfway line repeatedly to achieve this (a dangerous area to yield possession in order to burn a few seconds which doesn’t seem like a very defensive move).

      Agreed with regards to the goalkeeper touching the ball first time in the opposing half (including restarts) being counted as a first touch. I don’t believe we’ve contradicted that here.

      Agreed with the ball being thrown directly into the opponent’s goal. I didn’t want to re-iterate every single thing from the Laws here but we’ve answered this question in a prior comment.

      • ecmarco says:

        Law 12 is clear: An indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a goalkeeper commits
        any of the following four offences:
        “After playing the ball, he touches it again in his own half of the pitch after it
        has been deliberately played to him by a team-mate without an opponent
        playing or touching it” {page 40 in the English version)

        There is nothing in the Laws that state that moving to the opposing half of the court clears the goalkeeper of any restriction on playing the ball again after releasing it into play. He cannot play the ball again after releasing it into play until an opponent has touched it or it has gone out of play. So, unless one of those actions occur playing in the opposing half and then returning does not change the Laws.

        It was changed so that golakeepers cannot eat up time by playing tica taca with a team mate. That would be very easy to do if what you suggest was allowed.

        Once the ball is released back into play the keeper cannot play the ball again unless one of the two actions mentioned already occur.

        • larbitre says:

          Hey Ed, I’m inclined to agree with you based on the Law statement alone but where is “releasing it into play” ever mentioned/defined? The goalkeeper throughout simply plays the ball.

          • ecmarco says:

            You’re using semantics. The goalkeeper may not play the ball again once he releases it into play. Even if you cannot find the exact wording that I have used within the Laws of the Game the fact that what I state is true does not change. There is nothing about a second touch by the keeper in the Laws but people are continually using that term to describe this same action we discuss. Playing and releasing the ball have the same meaning. When the goal plays the ball the Laws do not just refer to dribbling the ball.

            • larbitre says:

              Thanks Ed. I’m going to re-structure this page with the “second touch” wording. Too bad we don’t have another short colloquialism that makes it easier to refer to.

              That being said, clarification came from the FIFA Refereeing department (specifically Manuel Navarro [Deputy Head of Refereeing]) to report that the GK returning to his own half with the ball with no teammate involved as an intermediary is fine. The 4 second count resets – no offence.

  13. Amanda says:

    Can a goalie socore off of a bounce kick from on side to the other and not touching any player.

  14. ecmarco says:

    These videos are still not correct. It’s going to confuse people. They should be fixed. The count for the 4 seconds is not reset if the goal keeper enters the opponents half of the pitch and then returns with the ball. The fact is, the whistle will be blown because the goal keeper has touched the ball again in his own half after releasing the ball into play, which is what he does when he enters the opponents side.

  15. ecmarco says:

    That statement that was posted on Facebook in regards to the FIFA Assistant To the Head of Referees for FIFA did not say anything about the ball. I asked for clarification as it only says that each time the goalkeeper returns to his half the 4 seconds is counted again. We must see that answer with the exact wording of the goalkeeper dribbles or plays the ball into the opposing half and then plays or dribbles the ball back into his own half without any opponent touching the ball. We haven’t seen that answer yet.

  16. ihab says:

    if the goal touches the line with his feet when he throws the ball

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