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Question Number: 33599

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 8/26/2019

RE: Amateur Adult

George of Parangarecutirimicuaro , CA Sacratomato asks...

A couple of colleagues had a friendly debate over the weekend over the following scenario:
Defender beats an attacker to the ball just outside the 18. Defender taps the ball to the goalie as attacker tries to take the ball away. The ball is headed towards one of the posts and looks like a sure auto goal. Goalie dives and punches ball out of bounds for a corner quick.
One colleague argued that this is an intentional pass by the defender to the goalie, therefore IFK at the spot of the infraction. The other colleague argues, since the ball is headed for a score, that the goalie is now allowed to prevent the goal from going in.
What would be a more accurate arguement?

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi George,
As I'm sure you are aware, it's only an offence for the keeper to touch the ball with the hands if it has been deliberately kicked to them by a team mate. The clear intent of the law when this particular clause was brought in, was to stop defenders and goalkeepers from wasting time by passing the ball back and forth to each other, over and over and over again, to waste time. In this situation, I'm wondering whether we can be sure that the intent of the defender was to kick the ball to the keeper. If it was, he has apparently not succeeded in that aim since the ball is going not to the keeper but into the goal. It looks as if there is a good chance the player was simply trying to kick the ball to prevent the opponent getting it and where the ball is going (not directly towards the keeper) could seem to support that view.

Now, if the referee is convinced this was a ball deliberately kicked with the intent of delivering it to the keeper, they would be entitled to give an indirect free kick (but no further sanction) as a result, when the goalie handles it. However I think many referees would, as Ref Wright suggests, give the defender the benefit of the doubt and tend to see this as more of an attempted challenge or clearance that did not go as intended and not penalise it at all.

There is a phrase that was originally used in reference to the 'circumvention' law that I think could equally be applied here. This phrase basically says that (this being an offence where the referee has to interpret the player's intent) the referee should only penalise the offence if they are convinced of the player's motive. So for me, if you're not actually convinced of what the player intended, you don't punish it as an offence.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi George
The answer depends on the action of the deflender and the kick and the opinion of the referee.
Most in the game believe that in these instances that as the defender is challenging for the ball then there is uncertainty in the intention of the player and therefore possibly not a deliberate kick to the goalkeeper. Now without doubt the goalkeeper must save the ball and that action must not be sanctioned with a card of any colour.
The question on the IDFK is whether it was intended as a deliberate kick to the goalkeeper or a kick / tackle that was intended otherwise such as out for a corner, throw in,ball gets away from the defender through poor control etc. I would say that the fact that the goalkeeper has to make a save suggests that it is not a likely deliberate kick to the goalkeeper.
Due to that uncertainty I believe it is unfair to call the IDFK yet there can be times when the timing suggests that the defender's intention under no pressure was a kick to the goalkeeper.
I recall a few seasons ago in a game where from a goalkick a defender tried to kick the ball immediately from the GKs kick, not sure what his intention was, yet it headed straight back towards goal and the goalkeeper had to tip the ball over the bar. I awarded a corner kick with no debate as most felt that in no way could it have been a kick to the goalkeeper. Perhaps it was a very poorly executed kick to the GK? Or was he trying to help the kick on and miskicked it? In the absence of certainty I give the benefit of doubt to the defending team.
Have a look at his these two calls.
The first one is not a deliberate kick to the goalkeeper which should not have been called and on the second one there is sufficient doubt as to what was intended by the defender. Having said that the GK should have known that if the first one was called on hi. the second one was most definitely was going to be called! Poor awareness really by the GK.
What I am certain of is that the goalkeeper cannot be sanctioned with a card for saving the ball entering the goal not even a caution.
For me I am only calling the certain deliberate kick to the goalkeeper. It has worked for me.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi George,
I can't for the life of me imagine where your second colleague got that one from! Sounds like the sort of thing he's picked up around the grounds and taken as truth.

I have heard some referees argue (incorrectly) that the keeper is allowed to 'save' an errant pass to them. This has no basis in law.

I can assure you that 'heading for the goal' does not mean the keeper is allowed to handle a ball that's been deliberately kicked to them by a teammate!

If you think about it, a lot of passes to the keeper would be on target to the goal....

Now, bear in mind that the keeper must be the intended recipient. In the instance you describe, are you sure the defender is tapping the ball to the keeper or are they trying to play it over the goal line? When you have a contested situation like this it's less likely the defender is really able to control it, thus you're more likely to give the defender the benefit of the doubt.

Now, again, some referees claim that you can never consider a foul if the defender kicks it back to the keeper under pressure like this and the keeper handles it. This also is incorrect - but you just give the defender more benefit of the doubt.

And when the ball is errant - heading away from the keeper, close to going over the goal line but a yard to the wrong side and heading for goal....well, did the defender kick it to the keeper or over the goal line?

One thing that's always worth pointing out is that no matter the situation, the keeper must never receive a card for handling the ball inside their own penalty area.

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