Soccer Referee Resources
Ask a Question
Recent Questions

Previous You-Call-It's

VAR (Video Assistant Referee)

Q&A Quick Search
The Field of Play
The Ball
The Players
The Players Equipment
The Referee
The Other Match Officials
The Duration of the Match
The Start and Restart of Play
The Ball In and Out of Play
Determining the Outcome of a Match
Fouls and Misconduct
Free Kicks
Penalty kick
Throw In
Goal Kick
Corner Kick

Common Sense
Kicks - Penalty Mark
The Technical Area
The Fourth Official
Attitude and Control
League Specific
High School

Common Acronyms
Meet The Ref
Contact AskTheRef
Help Wanted
About AskTheRef

Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

Panel Login

Question Number: 35459

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 4/21/2024

RE: 12U AYSO Under 13

Fred of Chesterfield , MI United States asks...

I have called indirect free kicks a couple times when a goalie handles a pass with there hands inside the box. I know a deflection does not count and that it has to be an intentional or at least deliberate act by the defender for it to be a problem.
The thing that happened the other day that has me scratching my head is: A defender kicked the ball forward like 4 feet. The ball was in the 18 yard box. It wasn’t exactly an intentional pass to the keeper but the keeper went out and grabbed it. It wasn’t a deflection either. The defender had control of the ball. The defender did kinda yield to the goalie to let them grab it but It just didn’t look like an intentional pass.(There were no attackers within 10 yards.) I didn’t call it and I told the coach of the attacking team there was no intentional pass. I am not positive I made the right call because on the other hand: The defender had to know the goalie would play the ball as no one else was around and she did not make a move towards the ball after she kicked it.

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Fred,
remember the player must deliberately kick the ball using the feet for the keepers' handling restriction to be in effect, it is ok to intentionally redirect a deliberate ball to their keeper using other body parts, head, chest, knee etc..
Just wanted to clarify that point.

You are 100% correct, a miskicked clearance or deflection where the ball rebounds off a foot from say a slide tackle challenge poking the ball away or a reaching out stab attempt to stop an attacking through ball that goes astray, bad contact, wind affected, funny bounce.

Now as to deciding if the defender has in fact deliberately kicked the ball with their feet to their keeper! That is an opinion, as a fact of play, to be decided by the referee.

We look at the circumstances and evaluate the intentions and the conditions.
Where this gets a bit iffy is the timing of such events.

Now a keeper will call off or disregard his defender and grab a ball off their feet especially if attackers are challenging in and around the goal. It is their job to stop attacks and shots on goal.

Generally a defender who stops, then controls a ball, with their feet, then chooses to leave it for the keeper, has in fact, deliberately used their feet to kick the ball to their keeper. Having no attackers challenging does seem suspicious? Why the need to let the keeper in on the action, if there are no reasonable circumstances for a keeper to immediately use their hands to stop a shot or make a save?

I have seen defenders attempting to control and play the ball out as their keeper is calling them off even as they fight for control and act submissive to that request by the keeper.

Now you might choose to see this 4 ft kick as a miskick, a dribble bobble of a sort and the keeper is simply reacting and recovering a potential threat. After all, awarding a good scoring chance with an unearned effort and offered as a LOTG technicality INDFK for a miscommunication, feels rather weak?

You stated it was apparent that not only was there no opposition challenging, that it was also readily apparent the kicker was still in the mix to keep going but allowed the keeper to come from further away to gather it in? So it is not at all improbable that an INDFK offence was committed, even if likely created out of some fouled up communications by the teammate and keeper.

As a referee you might hesitate to award such an opportunity but it is not the opposition's fault that the defenders made a mistake. It is important while we can attribute doubtful and trifling but if the LOTG are stated as such, we should not ignore mistakes where the opposition is rewarded in the LOTG with a free kick opportunity!

Perhaps the fact the ball was not kicked directly to the keeper but slightly out away from goal where it remained stationary until the keeper came for it, confused the situation?

In retrospect whether you could of and chose to not award the infraction of illegal handling by the keeper in his PA with an INDFK, you thought it necessary to explain to the opposition coach why you did not call it? I sense if he disagreed, it appears he at least agreed to disagree and move on! Your opinion is the only one that matters, as long as you apply the LOTG with fairness & integrity, learn from your mistakes and just move on.

Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Fred
Thanks for the question.
The requirement that the ball be *kicked to* the goalkeeper means only that the play is to or toward a place where the goalkeeper can legally handle the ball. The requirement that the ball be *deliberately kicked* means that the play on the ball is deliberate and does not include situations in which the ball has been, in the opinion of the referee, accidentally deflected or misdirected.

The Glossary in the Laws of the Game tells us that the ball is kicked when a player makes contact with it with the foot and/or the ankle. Distance is irrelevant.

We are also told that deliberate play is when a player has control of the ball with the possibility of:
# passing the ball to a team-mate
# gaining possession of the ball or
# clearing the ball (e.g. by kicking or heading it)
While expressed in Law 11 is is still relevant to other parts of the Law

Law 12 tells us that it is an indirect free kick is award if a goalkeeper inside their penalty area 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.

So in your example has the defender deliberately kicked the ball and not misdirected it. The answer is yes
Has the goalkeeper touched the ball with the hands. The answer is yes
And the final part is whether the kick was TO the goalkeeper or by convention to a place for the goalkeeper to pick the ball up. The answer is maybe and that is a judgement call for the referee on the day.
One of the most fundamental tenets at the core of the Laws of the Game is that an offence, all other things being equal, should generally not be called and play stopped if the offence is doubtful and/or trifling – *doubtful*means it may or may not occurred and you lack the facts to know for sure, *trifling* means that the offense occurred but didn’t affect either team one way or the other.

This was a doubtful and trifling incident and given that the ball was picked up and probably kicked away quickly a no call can be justified.
If however a referee opined that it was an intentional play to the goalkeeper then the IDFK would be justified.
In the scheme of things as described it was a questionable call and therefore when unsure the best decision is the no call.
I think on another day a referee in a game with older players might call this IDFK. I do notice a more relaxed attitude to this law in recent years as in the early days they were invariably called no matter what even misdirected kicks.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Fred,
When it comes to the law about a goalkeeper not being allowed to use their hands on a ball deliberately kicked to them by a teammate, there is a phrase I like to use.

In FIFA circular 488, which introduced the offence of a deliberate trick to circumvent the law it is stated that in order to come to the conclusion that the offence has been committed, "the referee must only be convinced that this was the player's motive."

Now, while this phrase wasn't used directly in relation to this specific part of the law, but rather (as mentioned) for the associated offence of circumvention, I think the phrase itself is nevertheless applicable here.

So when considering whether there was an offence committed in the situation you describe, I believe it is helpful to ask yourself that question - namely, are you convinced that the player's motive in kicking the ball to the position that they did, was to allow that goalkeeper to be able to pick up the ball?

If you are convinced that it was, then you should give the offence. However if you are not convinced, of if you have doubts about it, then you should not give the offence.

Read other questions answered by Referee Peter Grove

View Referee Peter Grove profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 35459
Read other Q & A regarding Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct

Soccer Referee Extras

Did you Ask the Ref? Find your answer here.

Enter Question Number

If you received a response regarding a submitted question enter your question number above to find the answer

Offside Question?

Offside Explained by Chuck Fleischer & Richard Dawson, Former & Current Editor of AskTheRef

This web site and the answers to these questions are not sanctioned by or affiliated with any governing body of soccer. The free opinions expressed on this site should not be considered official interpretations of the Laws of the Game and are merely opinions of AskTheRef and our panel members. If you need an official ruling you should contact your state or local representative through your club or league. On AskTheRef your questions are answered by a panel of licensed referees. See Meet The Ref for details about our panel members. While there is no charge for asking the questions, donation to maintain the site are welcomed! <>