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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000


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Question Number: 33977

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 8/23/2020

RE: Adult

Stephen Beckett of Lisburn, Armagh Northern Ireland asks...

Can a goalkeeper punch a back pass from his own player

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Stephen,
This would be considered the same as catching the ball - the law states 'handles', not 'catches'. This applies when the keeper is receiving the ball from a teammate's throw-in, or a deliberate kick to the keeper by a teammate (not a miskick). If an opponent touched the ball on the way though then the keeper is free to handle it.
Also, from the current (2020/21) laws, if the keeper attempts to kick the ball back into play after receiving it from a teammate but it's a miskick and goes nowhere, they're now allowed to handle the ball.




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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Stephen,

Law 12 states that an indirect free kick is awarded if the goalkeeper:

"touches the ball with the hand/arm, unless the goalkeeper has clearly kicked or attempted to kick the ball to release it into play, after:

it has been deliberately kicked to the goalkeeper by a team-mate

receiving it directly from a throw-in taken by a team-mate”

So you can see that punching the ball would still come under this law, since it involves touching the ball with the hand.



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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Stephen
The answer is clear. A goalkeeper may NOT use their hands or arms to touch the ball that has been deliberately kicked to him by a team mate. A punch is a use of the hand/ arm.
The only exception to this is where the goalkeeper has mis kicked a deliberate kick from a team mate and subsequently uses his hand to play the ball.
In your example if a goalkeeper punches away a back pass from a deliberate kick to him from team mate then that would be punished by an indirect free kick from where the goalkeeper used his hand/s.
I might add that if there is any doubt about whether the kick was a deliberate kick to the goalkeeper the referee could allow the benefit of doubt and not penalise. An example would be where a defender tries to clear the ball away for a corner and a goalkeeper punches the ball away in the air under pressure from an opponent then that could be seen as no offence. That assumes of course that it does not look like a back pass that has been poorly executed.




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