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Question Number: 34369

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 10/3/2021

RE: Rec Under 11

Michael of Pittsburgh, PA USA asks...

Deliberate backpass question. Had a strange one today. U10, 7v7, small field. Team A is ahead 6-0 after 15 minutes. After a goal, team B is kicking off. The player, facing forward, kicks a hard heel-kick straight backward for the kick-off. None of his teammates are directly behind him (they are all playing wide, easily 10 meters from the ball). Ball goes straight to the keeper, who picks it up just inside the 18. I blow the whistle for deliberate pass. Team A scores on the IDFK. The coach argues because the player was not intentionally trying to pass to the keeper. And I suppose he wasn't (he wasn't even looking at the keeper), but he kicked the ball directly at the keeper anyway. He did not misplay it. He was not trying to kick to a different player. He kicked the ball exactly where he intended to. I asked the coach who he was trying to pass to. Coach says "no one. he was just kicking it backward". As I think about it, I probably called it wrong considering the intent was not there. But in real time it looked so strange seeing a player kick a ball straight and hard right to his own keeper with no other player near the ball at any time. Thoughts?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Michael
In this part of the world this rule is not enforced for Under 10s!

Anyway referees are not mind readers and this would have looked like a deliberate kick to the goalkeeper. So probably because it was a strange play with what looked like there was no other intent it was likely to get called.

The learning point here as it was called is that what was the player doing on an aimless kick that could only go to the goalkeeper and that goalkeepers should be wary of picking up deliberate kicks in their general direction that is not connected with a challenge or a misplay. Team A could have sorted this if they felt it was a harsh or wrong call at 6-0 by giving the ball back.

For what its worth I probably would not have called it for a few reasons
1. Its an U10 game with limited knowledge of the Law.
2. There was possible doubt what was intended
3. Would there been any complaint at 6-0 if it wasn’t
4. I need to be 100% sure on any free kick around the penalty area.

I might recount this story in an u11 game. The goalkeeper after making a save ran out to the edge of the penalty area to take a punt. He realised his sock was coming down and his shin pad was loose so he knelt down, placed the ball at his foot and pulled up his sock. He picked the ball up again and punted it.
I decided to do nothing and I had to smile to myself. No real complaints from the opponents.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Michael,
first off welcome to the b#&@%#@ in black and kudoes for the self evaluation. Reviewing your decision in post match reflection with input from peers, colleagues mentor & assessors will help you make better decisions in the future!
I agree with you it was not a decision thar was in the best interest of the game. I like the fact you have looked it over and came to that same conclusion, we should not go looking for a way to gift the opposition a goal.
I would be very tolerant of the wee ones until they field 11 aside full field competative matches where there will be more consquences for a mistake then say in the learning curve of understanding the LOTG game as you gain the skils to play it.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Michael,
First of all I'd just have to echo what ref McHugh said and say that based on my experience of refereeing I'm surprised there are u11 competitions where this is being enforced.

Secondly I'd say that out of all offences in the laws of the game where intent is a consideration (and despite what some might have you believe, there are several) this is probably the one where it is the most important. So for me, you have to be sure of what the player intended before you call this.

Even at adult professional level I think it would be relatively difficult to be sure what a player who was not even facing their goalkeeper and who is back heeling the ball (a technique where directionality is more difficult to control than with other kicking techniques) is intending to do. At u11 level I would say that this is even less easy to discern.

There is a phrase that was used by the IFAB in a circular which while it does not apply directly to the deliberate kick to the goalkeeper clause, but to the linked offence of using a deliberate trick, is perhaps equally applicable here, in my opinion. It says that:

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

As far as I'm concerned, it's only when you are convinced of what the player was intending to do, that you should give the offence of a deliberate kick to the goalkeeper by a teammate. If on the other hand there is any doubt about the player's motive for kicking the ball, then I don't think you should give the offence - at least, not if this is the first example of it happening in the game.

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