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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 33969

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 7/30/2020

RE: Adult

Billy Allan of London , United Kingdom asks...

Re the ‘pass back’ rule
If a defender passed the ball to another defender and lets say the ball was underhit or got held up somehow, since the ball wasn’t deliberately kicked to the goalkeeper by the letter of the law wouldn’t the goalkeeper be entitled to pick it up

Similarly, if a team mate was running out out with the ball and simply ‘left it’ and didn’t kick it towards the goalkeeper.


Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Billy,
It's sometimes said in online discussions I've seen, that the element of intent has been removed from the Law. In fact, it has only been completely removed from some aspects of the law, most notably physical challenge or contact fouls. The words "deliberate" or "deliberately" still appear dozens of times, including of course here, in the law covering a ball deliberately kicked to the goalkeeper by a team mate.

So what I believe we are being asked to judge here is the player's intent. Admittedly, this is a tricky proposition and involves a certain amount of guesswork but in the end, what the referee has to decide is where the player intended the ball to go. If the player intended it to go to the keeper then for me, the law has been broken when the goalie uses their hand to contact the ball, whether it was underhit or not.

Similarly, with the scenario of a player running with the ball - if the referee judges that the last touch the player made with their foot, was done to deliberately deliver the ball to their goalkeeper, then the keeper may not use their hands on it. Having said that, the way you describe it here, with a player simply running with the ball and then leaving it, doesn't sound particularly like a deliberate kick to the goalkeeper. It would still depend on the exact circumstances, and the referee's judgement, though.

In the end, the important thing for me is that the referee must be sure of the offence. There was a phrase used by the IFAB in a circular about the related but separate offence of circumvention, that I think can be applicable here and it goes like this:

"The referee must only be convinced that this was the player’s motive."

So if the referee is convinced the player's motive in kicking the ball was for it to go to the keeper, the prohibition on handling applies but if the referee is not convinced, they should not give the offence.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Billy
Referees give what they see and how it looks and sometimes intent can be difficult to judge. In your example was it a pass to a team mate or to the goalkeeper.
Have a look at this video
Was it intended for a defender or the goalkeeper? The referee decided it was for the goalkeeper so it was penalised with an IDFK. I can argue all day long that it could have been intended for the defender. The fact was that the goalkeeper took a chance and used his arms to play the ball which resulted in an IDFK. I doubt the referee could have given anything other than the IDFK.
My advice to goalkeepers is to not ask the question as they might not like the answer. If it gets kicked away the question does not arise.
As to controlling the ball to leave it for the goalkeeper that is a kick to the goalkeeper. It might only be inches yet it is still using the foot to play it to the goalkeeper which prevents the goalkeeper from using his hands to play the ball. Playing the ball to a place for the goalkeeper is the same as TO the goalkeeper. In fact most coaches will advise to play the ball to the side of the goal away from the goalkeeper so that in the event of a mis kick it is away from goal with no risk. It is still TO the goalkeeper

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