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Question Number: 16064

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 7/18/2007

RE: rec/competitive Adult

david pawloski of haslett, mi usa asks...

I have a question about the rule regarding a keeper handling the ball from a deliberate kick from a teammate. The rule states nothing about intent. So if in an "attempt", where the ball is played with the foot, to clear a ball, it is picked up by the keeper,should they be called for handling?

Answer provided by Referee Gil Weber

David, except as it applies to intentional handling the word "intent" has been removed from Law 12. So it's no longer "intentional" tripping, or "intentional" pushing, etc.

That said, goalkeepers should only be penalized for what's commonly called the "passback" if in the referee's opinion a teammate consciously played the ball with the foot to a place where the goalkeeper could pick it up. That ball can be played to a place inside or to one outside the penalty area where the GK then dribbles the ball into the PA and picks it up.

Referees are advised not to penalize in instances where in the opinion of the referee the ball was miskicked (e.g., spins wildly off the shoe and goes in an obviously unintended direction). On the other hand, if in attempting to clear the ball a defender simply plays it poorly (weakly), or sends it to a place on the field where it should not have been sent (e.g. close to an opponent who is in the penalty area), or if a strong wind blows the ball back toward the goal, then the GK should not play it with the hands. In these and similar situations an IFK should be awarded if he/she does.

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Answer provided by Referee Debbie Hoelscher

An infringement occurs if IN THE OPINION OF THE REFEREE, the goal keeper touches the ball with his hands after it has been deliberately kicked
to him by a team-mate. The referee must decide if there is a DELIBERATE kick by the teammate to the keeper. By comparison, the referee decides whether a ball has been deliberately handled by a player (an outfielder), or if the ball has handled the player when deciding whether or not they will stop play for a deliberately handling the ball foul. In both cases, it is the opinion of the referee that prevails.

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Answer provided by Referee Ben Mueller

Right - if the defender tried to clear it, then it should not be called. Referee Hoelscher makes a good point when she emphasizes in the opinion of the referee. Intent is very difficult to judge.

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Answer provided by Referee Michelle Maloney

David, be careful about your terminology. The goalkeeper can NEVER be guilty of 'handling' as it is so commonly known, or of 'handling the ball deliberately' if you are a Laws geek (like me) within his own penalty area. As both Gil and Debbie note, it is only a touch of the ball with the hands here, and because it is the goalkeeper, it is an indirect free kick restart IF, as Debbie notes, ITOOTR, the kick was with the foot and done deliberately to a place where the goalkeeper can reach it - even if s/he then dribbles it into the penalty area and picks it up.
Now, one thing to always keep in mind here is the experience and the age of the players. If we're dealing with recreational players and the kick by the defender was clearly (ITOOTR) not a deliberate act toward the keeper, then it is nothing - no call. If, on the the other hand, one is dealing with highly skilled players, chances are excellent that it was not an accident and proceed as noted above.

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Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

David, the keeper may not deliberately handle the ball inside his own penalty area if the ball has been deliberately kicked to him or to an area where the ball may be collected. As my fellow referees point out, this is an OPINION call by the referee. I feel it important to remember that this rule change was initiated to cut down on time wasting by the keeper and his/her teammates. During dynamic play the ball will inadvertantly end up with the keeper and he picks it up. This is NOT an infraction.

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Answer provided by Referee Nathan Lacy

I learned this issue as involving three distinct aspects that must all be present in order for there to be an infraction and have mentioned it before on this site. It's sort of like the three legs of a stool or the three sides of a triangle - they must all be present for the item to be "stable." Those three items regarding the "passback" situtation are: (1) deliberate; (2) played with the foot; and (3) touched by the keeper with their hand(s). If any one item is missing then the IFK call is not made; i.e. there is no infraction. And in support of the above opinions it is, of course, a matter of the referee's opinion regarding the specific situation. All the best,

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Answer provided by Referee Chuck Fleischer

We all know the seven most important words in the world: If In The Opinion Of The Referee. Sometimes one must consider there are really eight most important words, this is one of those times:

IITOOT Experienced R.

That's the key, experienced. Of course there are referees out and about having many, many years of experience but only one entry level class worth of knowledge. They wear the uniform and look the part. Watch out for those guys because they don't understand the why of not being able to use hands when the ball is deliberately kicked by a colleague.

The whole point of this addition to the Laws of the Game was to prevent time wasting, nothing more. The referee having experience, common sense and vast knowledge of the Laws will usually, yes usually, understand the Spirit of the Game as well.

In Football there are eleven players on a side and one of those is the goalkeeper and only he is permitted to use his hands when the ball is inside his own penalty area. After July 1993 there was a caveat to that and participants in The Game still aren't really crystal clear on what it "means". So your question keeps getting asked in one form or another.

My colleagues, all US Soccer instructors, two formerly National Referees, have explained what it means to them and how they determine whether or not there is a violation in law. My Turn...

First a scenario, a melee in the goal area, the ball is flying all over the place the keeper and two defenders are on the goal line. The other keeper, who is near the halfway line, is the only one of the twenty two not in the penalty area trying to get a shot off or clear the ball. Finally the defence prevails enough to get the ball clear as far as the penalty mark. Of course the attacker's best player, Cannon Leg McGurk, is perfectly positioned and hits a mighty blow. In it comes knocking players aside as it does. When it finally works its way to the goal line it is comming, still at pace, to one of the defenders on the line. He, just, gets a foot to it and knocks it about 2 meters in front of his keeper. Everyone freezes except one and he is diving headlong at the spinning ball. He is the goalkeeper. He's GOING to use his hands.

Right referee, its your match, your decision and your reputation. Are you going to referee exactly according to the Laws of the Game or according to the Spirit of the Game? The Law is going to be infringed because the team mate of the goalkeeper did deliberately kick the ball, right?

Brian Hall, a former USA FIFA Referee, allowed play to continue this time because the Spirit of the Game WAS NOT infringed. His experience told him that even though the Law had been infringed it had not been infringed in the way the International FA Board intended. The defender did his job, he made a last ditch play for the ball with his foot that looked exactly like he kicked the ball to a place where the goal keeper could play it. The keeper did his job as well, he fell on the ball and prevented it from being played by other opponents, who were nearby.


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