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Question Number: 34883

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 2/19/2023

RE: Rec / Comp / High School High School

Peter of Stockton, CA USA asks...

Saturday Feb 2 game Everton / Leeds in about the 86 minute the Leeds defender makes a play at the ball and the ball hits his foot and goes directly to the Keeper. The Keeper collects the ball using his hands. The referee did not call this as an offence and I am wondering why not? If this was to happen at games that I referee I would not have called it because of the lower skill level, but at professional level I think that this should have counted.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Peter
The deliberate kick to the goalkeeper is one of those offence that only deliberate kicks TO the goalkeeper should be called. This applies to all levels of the game.

Law 12 states that it is an offence when the ball has been deliberately kicked to the goalkeeper by a team-mate and the goalkeeper touches the ball with a hand. It does not include miskicks, challenges or other questionable kicks that could be destined elsewhere .
So for me the referee even at this Pro level was correct not to penalise this.

IFAB has gone as far now to say that it is not an offence even when the goalkeeper has clearly kicked or attempted to kick the ball to release it into play and then touches the ball with a hand. That demonstrates that the law makers only want to punish deliberate infractions in these scenarios not doubtful or dubious ones and to use the the law in the way it was intended based on obvious motive and intention.

At a time there was a perceived difference between the US and say Europe where the USSF advice was presented in the so called Test of the Triangle concept. That premised that 1. it was deliberate, 2. it was a kick with the foot and 3. the hands were used. The small print said that it does not include situations in which the ball has been, in the opinion of the referee, accidentally deflected or MISDIRECTED. Most if not all kicks are deliberate so many kicks were penalised when handled by a goalkeeper even misdirected ones. There are many examples of incorrect application of the law.
Here is a video of two examples
One the second one I'm sure if Red kicks the ball on to White yet IMO as there is uncertainty about what was intended so its play on.
In recent times the US has moved in line with Europe and only intended kicks TO the goalkeeper are punished

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Peter,
the INDFK for illegal use of hands on a ball deliberately kicked by a teammate to the keeper is one of the oddities of the LOTG, in the intent, is considered more than the act itself. Unlike say offside, where a deliberate attempt to play the ball in fact could reset offside criteria so a PIOP could be no longer restricted. Here the keeper handling restriction can be ignored if the referee believes this redirection was not the actual intent of the defender even though he deliberately tried to play the ball with the foot.

The creation of this portion of the law was to prevent time wasting, back when the keeper and defenders would basically play catch & kick and the opposition were bolloxed in trying stop it because once the keeper had the ball in their hands they could not reasonably challenge for it and it was a rinse, wash, repeat, cycle that was insanely time consuming and very boring.

Now the defender is still permitted to pass the ball back to his keeper using other body parts other than the feet but there is an addendum where if it was done to thwart the illegal handing that in of it's self is grounds for a USB caution show a yellow card to that defender and an INDFK in favour of the opposition The keeper does not even figure into that decision even if he chose not to catch it or kicked that ball away. This would be an act, like flick the ball to the head using a foot and then nod the ball back to the keeper.

We should not see redirects of the ball that deflect or come off the foot of a teammate to their keeper as an automatic infraction.
A slide tackle intercept might deliberately push the ball off an opponent in a challenge to which the keeper recovers the ball using the hands. A mistimed deliberate kick into the wind, a deliberate leg stab to intercept could redirect the ball off the foot to the keeper .

Where difficulties arise is when it's obvious the ball was kicked back towards the keeper to keep it away from the opposition but was done poorly. Say a clearance that runs out of steam in the corner or a ball recovered by the keeper OUTSIDE his PA then decides to dribble it inside his PA and stay there until a frustrated challenge by the opposition causing the keeper to THEN pick the ball up. Chances are quite good THAT act will see an INDFK awarded. It will set of those alarms of old QUIT WASTING TIME!

As my esteemed colleague Ref McHugh points out, the restriction of the keeper using the hands on a deliberately released ball past the 6 seconds could in theory reacquire said ball using their hands even though it says it is an INDFK infraction for illegal handling a ball that upon release cannot be retouched with the hands until one of the other 21 players were to do so first. SO in cases of slip or a straight up miskick or gust of wind forcing the keeper to react to make a secondary save. after sincerely trying to put the ball back into play. We give that keeper a break but WOULD expect that keeper to realize 6 seconds is all the time he has to put that ball back into play. To then delay past that will be looked at with greater interest!

My opinion, if the alarm bells are not ringing play on!


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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone

Hello Peter,

If this situation occurred in a high school game, unless it is a deliberate kick to the goalkeeper, there is no call and the play will continue. This is covered in NFHS Rule 12-7-3 which states: "On any occasion when a player deliberately kicks to the ball to the team's own goalkeeper, the goalkeeper is not permitted to touch it with the hands." The penalty is an indirect kick awarded to the opponent at the spot of the violation unless in the goal area.

It is interesting that I had five occasions in 3 recent high school games where the ball was kicked by a teammate to the goalkeeper. I considered two of them deliberate and awarded the indirect kicks. I don't remember having these kicks by a teammate to the goalkeeper in recent years so having five in 3 games is very unusual. Have you observed this happening in the games you are working?

Have a great spring season.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Peter,
This was not called as an offence because for me (and evidently, for the referee in the game also) it wasn't one. There was no indication I could see that the defender intended the ball to go to his goalkeeper. So it was in my opinion not within the criteria for the offence of a ball deliberately kicked to the goalkeeper by a team mate.

There is a phrase that was used by the IFAB in a slightly different context but which I think is entirely applicable here. This was a phrase used in the circular that introduced the offence of a deliberate trick to circumvent the law and it said that "the referee must only be convinced that this was the player's motive."

So if we apply that principle in in this case, as I think is appropriate to do, then if the referee is not sure what the players intention was when they kicked the ball (and in my opinion, here they couldn't be) then the offense should not be given.

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