In many team sports, a goalkeeper (termed goaltender, netminder, goalie, or keeper in some sports) is a designated player that is charged with directly preventing the opposite team from scoring by defending the goal. Such positions exist in Hurling, Association Football, Gaelic Football, International Rules Football, Handball, Field Hockey, Ice Hockey , Netball, Water Polo, Bandy, Lacrosse, Floorball and a number of other sports.
Usually special rules apply to the goalkeeper that do not apply to the other players. These rules are often instituted to protect the goalkeeper, being an obvious target for dangerous or even violent actions. In certain sports, such as ice hockey and lacrosse, goalkeepers are required to wear special equipment like heavy pads and a face mask to protect their bodies from the impact of the playing object (e.g. a puck).
In some sports, goalkeepers are considered almost the same as the other players in terms of rules; in football, for example, the keeper is allowed to play the ball with his feet just as any other player. In other sports, goalkeepers may be limited in the actions they are allowed to take, or limited to playing within a certain area of the field; in the NHL, for example, goalkeepers may not play the puck in the restricted areas behind the net or take the puck across the red line.
In association football, each team's goalkeeper defends his team's goal and has special privileges within the game. The goalkeeper's main job is to stop any penetration of the ball into the goal.
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