Case Study Remastered: Referee Pedersen and the Six Second Rule

Case Study # 2-2012
Match Date 6 August 2012
Competition 2012 Olympic Women’s Football Semi-Final
Fixture/Result CAN 3 – 4 USA
Referee/Badge Christiana Pedersen, FIFA
At Issue Pedersen’s decision to penalize the Canada GK for violating the “six-second rule” causes a media furor
Originally Published 7 August 2012
Remastered 4 July 2013

Ed. Note: “Remastered” is an occasional series where we take a fresh look at a particularly noteworthy refereeing decision.  The original post is preserved and can be found here.

A six-second violation decision by Norwegian referee Christiana Pedersen against the Canada goalkeeper touched off quite a storm of media and social media furor.  To this day, the original post about this decision remains the single most viewed item on iTOOTR (we had a stats glitch a few months ago, so it doesn’t appear on our homepage sidebar).

The decision was crucial because on the ensuing IFK, a Canada defender handled the ball the penalty area, resulting in a penalty kick for the USA, which was successfully converted.

The ensuing media storm centered around the idea that this type of call is rarely made and then only after warning the goalkeeper.  The assertion by the Canada GK (and others) was that the referee had not “officially” warned her about putting the ball back into play, apart from what the GK considered an “unofficial warning” at halftime.

I decided to write about this at the time because I was convinced that a FIFA referee wouldn’t make such a basic error.  I researched this not as a USA supporter, but as a referee who was dismayed by all of the criticism directed at Referee Pedersen. I went  looking for facts to support (or refute) the claims, looking for the following:

  1. Does the goalkeeper take too much time getting the ball back into play?  If so, how often?
  2. Does the referee warn the goalkeeper to put the ball back into play more quickly?
  3. Does the goalkeeper acknowledge those warnings and adapt her play accordingly?

As the CAN goalkeeper acknowledged that one member of the referee crew spoke to her at halftime about keeping the game moving, we should be able to answer the second and first part of the third questions in the affirmative.  That’s before we even review the match footage.

In the original case study, I simply presented freeze frames of a couple of key incidents.  For “Remastered” I now present the video clips of each of five separate incidents, including one (#1) that I missed the first time. (Many apologies for the quality of the video; a low-res version was the only copy I saved, and FIFA doesn’t permit embeds of their YouTube content on other sites).

My answers to the five questions above:

  1. Yes, at least 5 times.
  2. Yes, at least 3 times, including the halftime warning.
  3. a. Yes b. No

Do you have a different opinion?  Could the referee have done anything differently in handling this?



13 responses to “Case Study Remastered: Referee Pedersen and the Six Second Rule”

  1. I say: Not too long in my view. The first free kick took 27 seconds from whistle to kick. In other instances the keeper wanted to throw the ball to her players, but US was playing high, so she had to kick. All the referee had to do was make the “grand gesture” of “no-more” to the keeper in front of the teams (and spectators). If the referee’s authority wasn’t taken seriously by the keeper; the referee should have issued a yellow card for Delay of Game at the very next incident. It’s not like the keeper set up for a goal kick, used 6 or more seconds, and then called another player in to take the kick. When the kicker caught a cross: she went to the ground, but got up right away (she didn’t take a “Mexican nap”). The referee brought this trouble on herself. Maybe we should go back to the old four-step rule if this is going to become a troublesome issue in the Women’s Game.


    • There are a bunch of things wrong about your comment, but I’ll just point out the main one: there is no such yellow card sanction for “delay of game”. Delaying the restart of play though is a YC offence, which means you can’t give one to the keeper with the ball in her hands as the ball is in play.


  2. Correct call. But why is the ref allowing the GK to regain control of the ball with her hands after she releases it? That drives me nuts. Why do coaches allow this? There is nothing to be gained by bouncing the ball to yourself but you could lose possession in a dangerous part of the field.


    • Absolutely not, Doug. The ball is considered in the possession of the GK when it is being bounced between the field and his/her hands. If you allowed someone to steal it while she was doing that and score a goal, it would be a travesty and an outright offense. I hope you don’t allow this in your matches.


  3. Regardless of the warnings, the call was warranted for the amount of time taken. Goalkeeper should have released it to her feet like most goalkeepers would once they know their six seconds are up.


    • I agree 100%. There is no requirement for the referee to warn the GK and she is well aware by the time she reaches Snr. Women’s national team that she has a time limit. She took an outrageous amount of time with the ball and the referee was absolutely right to penalize her for it.


  4. My only complaint with Pederson is that she should have given the IFK earlier. I can understand and appreciate that its a call that none of us really want to make, but at this level, if the keeper doesn’t listen to you the first time you tell them something, you need to make the call. Its a lot easier to sell the call, when you say “I told you last time, now you get the call”, than talking to the keeper 4 times, and then finally making the call, especially that late in the game. If you are going to let something go 4 times, then IMHO, you need to let it go for the rest of the game. And I’m pretty sure, there were a couple incidents in the first half as well when the keeper held the ball for at least 14 seconds, not just what the video above shows.


    • Art, I think you’ve nailed it as far as I’m concerned. One warning should be enough.

      After a few more comments come in, I’ll share what the FIFA assessors supposedly told Pedersen.


      • If Pederson had made the call the next time after she had warned the keeper, there would have been more than 30 minutes left in the game. Even if she had made the call the second time after she warned her, there still would have been 30 minutes left. I just noticed after watching it again, that the keeper ignored Pederson 3 times in 3 minutes!! Pederson definitely should have made the call.

        So if the rest of the events had unfolded like they did after the IFK, Canada would have had 30 minutes left to play and try to change the score. It would have made this a lot less of a talking point, and we probably wouldn’t even be discussing this, lol!


  5. It’s a tough call to make but just because “no one ever calls that” does not make it wrong to call it. The keeper violated the law repeatedly and was warned (a warning is not “required”either but certainly should be given IMO). As we don’t know what was said exactly, it could be that the 4th warning was the “do it again and I am calling it” warning – the others may have been simply “let’s go” or other generic hurry up. I agree repeated warnings with no action make the warnings useless or the call that is finally made seem more arbitrary but at this level I think the referee tried all she could to get the keeper to comply without making the call – regardless of when she made it the out cry would have been the same I believe so kudos to her for making it.

    btw what did the assessors have to say??


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