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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000


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Question Number: 35208

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 11/8/2023

RE: competive Adult

Fran Karmann of West Covina, CA US asks...

This question is a follow up to question 32444

I had a discussion with an experienced coach the other day and was stumped how to answer him regarding the pass back rule.
The Law says: an IFK is awarded if the goalkeeper inside their penalty area touches the ball with the hands/arms, 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.
So does this mean the goalkeeper can pick up the ball if they attempt to kick the ball first?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Fran
Thanks for the question.

IFAB the law makers felt it was unfair that in situations where goalkeepers attempted to release the ball back into play after a deliberate kick by a team mate to them that the goalkeepers could not use their hands after these mis kick situations.
So lets say a goalkeeper goes to kick the ball and due to a bobble, misjudgment or whatever ends up mis kicking the ball away or up in the air. In these situations goalkeepers can then use their hands to catch, save the ball as normal in follow up play.

Now that does not apply if a goalkeeper was to intentionally play the ball in a deliberate controlled manner. The restriction would still apply of not using the hands as there is no attempt to release the ball back into play.






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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Fran,
I think the key to understanding this section of the Law is to read it in its entirety. This Law does not mean that a goalkeeper can always pick up the ball after a so-called "back pass" simply because they have attempted to kick it but only when they have *clearly* attempted to kick it *to release it into play*.

So it's not about attempting to kick the ball just any old how but only when it is clearly done in a specifically defined manner, namely in an attempt to release the ball into play.

I think it's often useful to look at the explanations given by the IFAB when they make a change and here's what they gave as the explanation for this amendment:

"When the GK clearly kicks or tries to kick the ball into play, this shows no intention to handle the ball so, if the ‘clearance’ attempt is unsuccessful, the goalkeeper can then handle the ball without committing an offence."

So once again, it is only when the keeper has unequivocally attempted to clear the ball upfield and has somehow accidentally failed to do so, that this clause comes into effect - and not in other situations where the goalie may have attempted to kick the ball in some other manner.



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